The Internet is a place for exchange of different content, mostly inaccessible to arms of the law. When The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA) laws were suggested, many sites for sharing files were closed or changed their policy. It seems that the freedom of the global network is slowly shutting down, but we all ask ourselves who are the greatest modern “pirates” on the internet who fight against this?
As a teenager, Kim Dotcom earned a reputation in his native Germany for cracking corporate PBX systems in the United States, and tried to parlay it into a career in data security. In 2001, Dotcom purchased $375,000 worth of shares of the nearly bankrupt company LetsBuyIt.com and subsequently announced his intention to invest €50 million in the company.On 21 March 2005, Dotcom founded Megaupload Limited, a Hong Kong-based file hosting and sharing business that eventually became the 13th most popular site on the internet with over 150 employees, US $175 million revenues, 50 million visitors daily, and estimated to be responsible at its peak for 4% of all internet traffic.
Julian Paul Assange is an Australian publisher, journalist, media and internet entrepreneur, media critic, writer, computer programmer and political/internet activist. He is the editor in chief and founder of WikiLeaks – international online self-described not-for-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistleblowers.
Shawn Fanning is an American computer programmer, serial entrepreneur, and angel investor. He developed Napster, one of the first popular peer-to-peer (“P2P”) file sharing platforms, in 1998. Soon after, however, Napster was the target of several music industry-backed lawsuits, which ultimately led to the end of the service.
Sean Parker is an American technology businessman and entrepreneur. He co-founded Napster, Plaxo, Causes, and Airtime. He was Facebook’s founding president. As of the third quarter of 2011, Parker’s net worth was estimated to be $2.1 billion.
Niklas Zennström is an entrepreneur best known for founding several high-profile online ventures with Janus Friis including Skype and Kazaa. More recently he founded the investment group Atomico and has become a significant figurehead for entrepreneurs in the tech sector. Kazaa was commonly used to exchange MP3 music files and other file types, such as videos, applications, and documents over the internet. The Kazaa Media Desktop client could be downloaded free of charge; however, it was bundled with adware and for a period there were “No spyware” warnings found on Kazaa’s website.
Christopher Poole is an American internet entrepreneur from New York City, noted for founding the websites 4chan and Canvas. 4chan is an English-language imageboard website. Launched on October 1, 2003, its boards were originally used for the posting of pictures and discussion of manga and anime. Users generally post anonymously and the site has been linked to Internet subcultures and activism, most notably Project Chanology. 4chan users have been responsible for the formation or popularization of Internet memes such as lolcats, Rickrolling, “Chocolate Rain”, Pedobear, and many others.
Freeman first released Cydia in February 2008 as an open-source alternative to Installer.app on iPhone OS 1.1, but Cydia quickly became the most popular package manager after iPhone OS 2.0′s release in July 2008. In August 2009, Freeman said “about 4 million, or 10 percent of the 40 million iPhone and iPod Touch owners to date, have installed Cydia. In September 2010, Freeman’s company, SaurikIT, LLC, announced that it had acquired Rock Your Phone, Inc. (makers of Rock.app), which made the Cydia Store the largest third-party app store for jailbroken iOS devices. In December 2010, Freeman announced plans to also release a Cydia Store for Mac OS X as a supplement, not an alternative, to Apple’s Mac App Store. As of April 2011, Cydia had $10 million in annual revenue and 4.5 million weekly users, with $250,000 in profit after taxes annually.
Bram Cohen is an American computer programmer, best known as the author of the peer-to-peer (P2P) BitTorrent protocol, as well as the first file sharing program to use the protocol, also known as BitTorrent. He is also the co-founder of CodeCon, organizer of the San Francisco Bay Area P2P-hackers meeting, and the co-author of Codeville.
Mark Howard Gorton is the creator of LimeWire, a peer-to-peer file sharing client for the Java Platform, and chief executive of the Lime Group. Lime Group, based in New York, owns LimeWire as well as Lime Brokerage LLC (a stock brokerage), Tower Research Capital LLC (a hedge fund), and LimeMedical LLC (a medical software company).In November 2010, as a response to the legal challenges regarding LimeWire, an anonymous individual by the handle of Meta Pirate released a modified version of LimeWire Pro, which was entitled LimeWire Pirate Edition. It came without the Ask.com toolbar, advertising, spyware, and backdoors, as well as all dependencies on LimeWire LLC servers.
He is best known for being a co-founder and ex-spokesperson of The Pirate Bay, a BitTorrent search engine. On 17 April 2009, Sunde and his co-defendants were found to be guilty of “assisting in making copyright content available” in the Stockholm district court (tingsrätt). Each defendant was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay damages of 30 million SEK (approximately €2,740,900 or US$3,620,000), to be apportioned between the four defendants. After the verdict a press conference was held where Sunde held up a handwritten IOU statement claiming that is all the damages he will pay, adding “Even if I had any money I would rather burn everything I own and not even give them the ashes. They could have the job of picking them up. That’s how much I hate the media industry.”
NinjaVideo was a website created in February 2008 containing links to uploaded videos of TV shows, movies, and documentaries. Since June 30, 2010, the site has been unavailable, as a result of a multinational anti-piracy effort led by the US federal government. Originally optimistic that her actions were in a “gray area” of the law, the co-founder and public face of NinjaVideo, Hana Beshara, pled guilty to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement on September 30, 2011. She was sentenced to 22 months in prison, another two years probation after that, 500 hours of community service and she has to pay back the $209,896.95 that she supposedly made from NinjaVideo to the MPAA.