Pro-copyright activists celebrated while file-sharers cried at rulings  on the Pirate Bay's illegality , and the subsequent attempts to sink the site. But some new data suggests piracy sites tripled in the aftermath, which really doesn't sound good.
McAfee, which makes security software for PCs, has done some analysis into the number of file-sharing sites that help P2P file-sharers find the pirated music, videos, and software links they're looking for, and has found that in the third quarter of this year, the number of pirating sites has actually tripled. August was a particularly bad month with nearly 1,400 sites McAfee labeled as pirate file hosting sites joining the ranks of existing ones--that's compared to way less than 200 news ones in January.
What this demonstrates is that those in positions of authority in the music biz and the legal system don't understand even basic politics, let alone the mechanisms that drive the Internet. On the Web, sites can come and go as quick as a thought, hosted anywhere in the world that ISPs exist--if you force one site to close, then another can pop up almost instantly. (BlueBeat 's Beatles downloads, anyone?) And, more than that, this is a classic case of a power vacuum: When one supreme dominant force (in this case the Pirate Bay, which was unquestionably the most powerful site for pirated torrents) disappears all of a sudden, there's a frantic struggle by all-comers to fill the void with their own offerings. McAfee's concern is that the genuinely nasty people on the Net--the phishers and the malicious hackers--used the power vacuum to launch malware attacks on users who had to now scout around to find their pirated content, and were more likely to use a service they didn't trust as there was no Pirate Bay to anchor in. McAfee measured a similar rise in malware during this period, to the point it's now at record levels.
You can imagine how the authorities are going to try to deal with this when they finally hear about it. Lots of blaming the naughty denizens of the Internet (which probably amounts to everyone on the Net) and lots of decisions to try to beat piracy down with an even bigger stick.
Which, if you apply just a jot of lateral thinking, is dumb. We reported not too long ago  on some research that suggested music pirates were actually the biggest buyers of legitimate MP3 downloads. Guess what's just happened? More research in the U.K. by Ipsos Mori (the second largest survey research organization in the country) has just reconfirmed the fact that those people who pirate music tend to be heavily into technology and the Internet, and actually buy many more legally-sold MP3s and CDs (£77 per year) than the members of the public who don't pirate files (£44).
If you tie these two pieces of news together, and blend in the three-strikes piracy ISP disconnection plans that some European governments  want to implement (and that surely the RIAA and MPAA approve of) then what you have is this: Pirates actually spend nearly twice as much on music than non-pirates, and closing their main pirated file wellspring hasn't changed their downloading habits. In fact it's increased the risk to all Internet users malware. And actually it's made piracy more of a public issue and multiplied the number of piracy Web sites that exist. Which could result in greater piracy. In other words, authoritarian stances on piracy actually achieve the opposite, and punish the very people who spend the most to keep the music biz in, as you might say, biz.
Oh what a tangled Web we weave...