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Mailbag Heard the one about The Pirate Bay being ripped off? This week there was a lovely story of the Swedish scofflaws being annoyed by clone sites. Many of you enjoyed the wedding-cake sized dollops of irony in this, but some furious freetards didn't. El Reg has got it all wrong, they insist.

MarKo1 is a newcomer to the Reg forums, and writes:

This article does not reflect the reality... after reading this article I went over to the TPB to find totally different informations ... I could not find anything about trademarks an so on.

If people like the author of this article are the one proposing laws ( bribery & lobbying) I start to believe that sites like TPB may have some good reasons to be up.

Shame on the register to post wrong informations.

And I got email, too. From reader 'Amit':

Way to completely miss the point. Piratebay is happy about proxies. They are unhappy about people exploiting their visitors.

It's common for commentards of Flame Warrior class Android to Not Do Irony. As an astonished photographer, IgglePiggle [where is his blanket? - ed] points out:

I seriously wonder how anyone can fail to see the irony that an outfit that is hell bent on ensuring the hard work of others is freely copied is now the victim of being copied.

But this is a wedding cake, that's just one tier. Rather more is being missed.

As a thought exercise, let's leave aside the fact that The Pirate Bay is an unlicensed operator. What readers MarK01 and Amit are describing, quite correctly, is The Pirate Bay's motivation for seeking to stop Pirate Bay clones. This is not in dispute. What the fans miss - or perhaps refuse to acknowledge - is the economic and legal context, the sea in which this motivation swims. The Pirate Bay is a media distribution website which owns a global brand, it owns design and it owns code. All this is The Pirate Bay's property. This is being copied and used in a way it doesn't approve. This is not, in itself, a very unusual situation.

Flame Warrior Android

Flame Warrior Android:
Doesn't do Irony

The reality is that The Pirate Bay has recourse to a bunch of intellectual property rights designed to allow its brand, design and code, and ensure they are used in the way it wants. Just like you do. And one of the glories of copyright is that it allows you the freedom not only to decide who uses your IP, but to change your mind on a whim.

(Similarly, permissive licenses such as the GPL build on copyright law and depend utterly on strong copyright enforcement).

But The Pirate Bay has achieved its worldwide fame by scoffing at these rights. It can't deploy them without being accused of hypocrisy. So The Pirate Bay operators must instead resort to pleading, to pulling faces, and if TorrentFreak is to be believed, illegal activity. The anti-copyright blog reported that "the TPB crew say they have 're-hijacked' visitors to one and are now directing them back to their official blog" and a hacker has deleted the clones' content.

So this is what Utopia looks like. Do you like what you see?

This is Wild West justice, but then Wild West justice is about all it has left. The Pirate Bay is rather like the Black Knight in Monty Python. With his arms and legs cut off, he still keeps insisting to King Arthur, "I'm invincible!"

Needless to say this is completely unnecessary, since The Pirate Bay (in our hypothetical thought-exercise) could throw the legal book at the clones and recover the damages.

This is the real irony of the story - The Pirate Bay has made its name vowing to destroy hard won rights which benefit the individual, the small firm, and are, at the end of the day, really quite useful. And they're also far more compatible with a civilised society than its own posturing and fantasy vigilante justice. The Pirate Bay's Pirate supporters live in a strange dream world, but every time they articulate their preferred version of the future, lawmakers find it so unwordly and repugnant, they go back and write out another SOPA.

Now there's an irony The Pirate Bay fans will go a million miles to avoid confronting. ®

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