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Media pirates plot flying drone servers

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, March 19, 2012 12:42 EDT
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A U.S. military drone aircraft. Photo: Paul Drabot / Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
 
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The online arms race just got a lot sillier.

In a brief post to the blog of The Pirate Bay, the Internet’s most prolific media piracy website, one of the site administrators explained that they have decided to do something kinda crazy: they want to take piracy into low-orbit space.

Specifically, the site wants to create a network of GPS-controlled, low-orbit drone aircraft that house wireless servers on portable computers running Raspberry Pi, a thumb drive computer that runs a Linux-based operating system.

“This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system,” the site admin wrote. “A real act of war.”

It’s not the first time The Pirate Bay has looked at doing something crazy to protect its operations. Housed in Sweden, the website’s host was raided by authorities in 2006, forcing them offline for a short time. Four men were subsequently sentenced to brief prison terms for helping other users violate copyright laws. They were also fined $6.5 million.

The Pirate Bay has since returned to full service and switched to a different file architecture that makes piracy harder to track. Mirror servers around the world also host the site, making a take-down attempt that much more difficult, but the group remains under threat if Swedish authorities return. Recognizing that potential, according to Wired magazine, they tried in 2007 to buy a stake in the offshore micro-nation of Sealand, but their offer was declined.

“We’re just starting so we haven’t figured everything out yet,” the site administrator noted Sunday. “But we can’t limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore. These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we’re building, that’s more than enough.”

It’s not clear what sort of tech they’re planning to use for the drones, how they would manage refueling the fleet that would be required for a large-scale operation, or whether they can even achieve reasonably strong wireless broadcasts from low orbit. Some consumer-level drone aircraft are available, however, like the Parrot AR.Drone, which comes with software that lets users control its movements via smartphone.

In other words, this plan will not likely work. Still, simply by publishing their harebrained scheme, The Pirate Bay helps illustrate the unprecedented lengths some are willing to take to protect the freedom of file sharing, which is under unprecedented attack by governments and corporations the world over.

Photo: Paul Drabot / Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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