Pirate Parties In Space

If you read this article’s headline and were expecting the greatest B movie ever made, I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re in for a dissapointment. It’s in fact a reference to a discussion on a technical solution to the problems of copyright law for those who support filesharing without restrictions.

The discussion comes from Pirates Parties International, which formally brings together the respective political parties from 22 countries. (There are also non-member parties from another couple of dozen countries.) As well as copyright reform issues, the parties stand on a platform of wider online rights.

One of the main problems such parties and their supporters encounter is that most national copyright laws mean there’s at least some dispute about whether sites linking to torrent files used by filesharing software to transfer copyrighted material are themselves committing a crime or civil violation.

Over the years there have been several proposed solutions to this. Sweden’s Pirate Party had hoped to win a seat in the country’s most recent national elections and use that position to host sites on parliamentary computers that are beyond the reaches of the law. However, it failed to recreate its previous success in European Parliament elections.

The most advanced plan was an attempt to buy out Sealand, a fort off the British coast owned by a former British army officer who claims it is an independent sovereign state, a claim that is legally disputed at best. Despite fundraising efforts, such a deal has never gone ahead.

Now several posters on the PPI discussion forum have talked about the idea of using either a weather balloon or a satellite to host material in space, where there would be no question of national laws applying.

The big problem — beyond the cost and logistics — is that to connect the server in space to the Internet, there still needs to be an IP address, a domain name, and some form of connection to the net, all of which would bring some form of national jurisdiction back into play.

Realistically it’s almost never going to happen (though a suggestion to put a server on a small ship and send it out into international waters might be more feasible), but you certainly can’t argue that pirates suffer from a lack of imagination.

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