Digital Legal

Pirate Party hits out as BPI prepares to sue over proxy

By | Published on Tuesday 18 December 2012

The Pirate Party

The Pirate Party UK has hit out at record label trade body the BPI over its threat to pursue legal action against five members of its national executive and its head of IT over the proxy link it operates providing easy access to The Pirate Bay.

As previously reported, the Pirate Party set up the proxy earlier this year as all of the UK’s major internet service providers were forced to block access to the controversial file-sharing website. The proxy is one of the simplest ways for British file-sharers to circumvent the Pirate Bay blockade.

The BPI wrote to Pirate Party Leader Loz Kaye last month asking that he stop operating the TPB proxy. He refused and now the record label trade body is preparing to go legal.

Assuming it gets to court it will be an interesting test case. The British courts have already claimed the power to force ISPs via injunction to block websites on copyright grounds, but can they then issue injunctions against those who help others circumvent the blocks? The BPI will be hoping the answer to that question is a resounding “yes”. Kaye, however, reckons that would be a step too far, and hopes to persuade the courts of his argument.

Although the Pirate Party initially seemed to relish the prospect of being able to present its arguments against web-blocking in court, even though doing so will require raising funds to pay for legal representation, Kaye and his colleagues didn’t seem to be expecting to be targeted personally by the BPI’s legal action. But in legal letters to six party members last week, the label body indicated that was its plan.

As far as we can see, the BPI has decided to go that route because the Pirate Party does not currently operate as a registered company, so isn’t a standalone legal entity that can be pursued through the courts independent from the people who own or run it. The trade body may well argue that this is, in fact, the only route it can go in the circumstances, but that hasn’t stopped Kaye from hitting out at the record industry for making the legal battle “personal”.

Kaye said late last week: “We had been anticipating legal action ever since I received an email from Geoff Taylor of the BPI. What has taken me aback is that this threat is personally directed. I simply can not see what the music industry think can be positively gained by threatening to bankrupt me and other party officers”.

He adds: “Throughout, the party and I have been open to dialogue. Contrary to reports, I offered to meet Geoff Taylor for discussion, but this has been rebuffed, at this point we are talking our legal advisers and will respond to the solicitors in due course. The Pirate Party’s political position remains this – site blocking is disproportionate and ineffective”.

Fundraising efforts are now underway at the Pirate Party to help fight any litigation by the record industry.