Ever since the UK record labels got a court to order our national ISPs to censor The Pirate Bay, the UK Pirate Party has been offering a proxy that allows Britons to connect to the site and all the material it offers, both infringing and non-infringing.
The record industry has finally struck back. Rather than seeking an injunction against the proxy, or suing the party, it has individually sued the party's executives, seeking to personally bankrupt them and their families. It's an underhanded, unethical, and unprecedented threat to democracy -- essentially a bid to use their financial and legal might to destroy a political party itself.
There's a fundraiser, and I've given more than I can afford to it -- £500 -- because this is plain, old fashioned, corporate bullying. I don't always agree with everything the Pirate Parties do, and I'm not a member of the UKPP, but I'm glad the Pirate Party exists, and I believe that hosting a proxy to the Pirate Bay was a political act, and that the record industry has gone after the personal lives of the executive in order to terrorise people who organise against them. They mustn't be allowed to do this.
Instead of targeting just the Pirate Party, the BPI’s solicitors are now threatening legal action against six individual members. Aside from its leader Loz Kaye, the BPI also sent threats to four other members of the National Executive and the party’s head of IT.
“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,” Kaye says.
Making the site’s members personally liable is the ultimate pressure, as they then have all their personal belongings – including their family homes – on the line. Kaye is disappointed with the BPI’s move, not least because the music industry group refused to negotiate the issue.
“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 with 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.”
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.