Pressure to get the world's largest torrent tracking site taken down by the entertainment industry is relentless, and in the early hours of the morning Pirate Bay users discovered that the Pirate Bay's .SX domain had became inaccessible, effectively rendering the site unreachable.
The Pirate Bay site had to relocate to a new domain name address based on Ascension Island's .AC top-level domain. This top-level domain is controlled by the UK government so it is at best a stopgap measure and another move to a domain outreach to the UK or US is highly probable.
The Pirate Bay's .SX domain seizure is said to be linked to the Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN who were understood to have sent a letter to The Pirate Bay's owners, stating that "We expressly point out that by registering domain names and using these and/or allowing these to be used by The Pirate Bay, you infringe on the rights of Rights Owners. Therefore, the Rights Owners hold you liable for the damages that they have suffered and will suffer from your actions,". The Pirate Bay's previous .SX domain is also understood to be Dutch controlled, hence BREIN's involvement.
The letter is also understood to have given the Pirate Bay a deadline of November 22 to shut down and threatened a €25,000 fine for each day they remained online at the .SX domain.
It remains unclear how long the piratebay.ac domain will remain usable given the fact that it is UK controlled, however according to the rumour mill there are plans afoot to move to a Peruvian .PE domain and The Pirate Bay are said to have at least a dozen other domain candidates up their sleeves.
There is a high probability that things could rapidly devolve into the online equivalent of a "whack-a-mole" game with The Pirate Bay merely shifting to new domains as authorities attempt to shut them down.
Should The Pirate Bay be eventually forced to close, the piracy problem isn't likely to go away as slow moving regulators fail to keep up with the frenetic pace of technology. Trackerless torrent clients such as BTDigg that don't need a central site are readily available, and the entire contents of The Pirate Bay can be downloaded as single .zip file. In theory both technologies could see piracy becoming so distributed and decentralized that it would effectively become impossible to police.
This begs the question to be asked - if regulators cannot hope to stop piracy, why adopt such a blunt approach in what is a seemingly unwinnable battle? Wouldn't it make more sense to fix the larger issues that are driving people to piracy?
Excluding greed and an urge for freebies, fixing piracy isn't an impossible task. Adopting some simple measures such as reducing the crazy timing gap between cinema and Blu-Ray releases, decreasing some of the frankly absurd pricing on CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray titles and most importantly of all, not treating paying customers as criminals via bizarre and restrictive DRM/zoning measures, will go a long way to reducing demand for pirate services.
Some progress has already been made with several online video on demand services now popping up in NZ. But the fact remains that fixing the larger issues surrounding piracy rather than adopting an unwinnable strategy of chasing after individual players is more likely to achieve positive results over the longer term.