back to article Pirate Bay plans sky-high flying proxy servers

The Pirate Bay says it is planning a fleet of airborne servers to evade the attempts of anti-piracy forces to shut down their file-sharing service. And, no, it's not yet April Fools' Day. The team behind the site says that the falling cost of GPS and remote-controlled drone technology, coupled with the advent of systems such …


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  1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    dirigible might be better

    Some type of dirigible with station keeping propulsion (solar powered?) would probably be more reliable than an outright drone that requires it's propulsion system to be working in order to stay aloft.

    1. SoaG

      Weather/flight time

      Dirigibles indeed. Not sure why the author seems to be imagining some sort of Predator drone with bluetooth.

      High enough to avoid weather issues and thus also more reliable solar. There had been talk a few years ago of a commercial wireless project of this sort in the US.

      Whether it's financially viable to launch in the first place is another question.

      1. Bob H

        Re: Weather/flight time

        Agreed, I would think placing it in the North Sea or even father afield, but you need to be careful of serious weather.

        Their bigger issue remains about connectivity, all the government needs to do is cut the cord (to the transmitter).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    love the idea

    It might not come to anything but it is likely to put the wind up a few people.

    Will we see.US Stealth fighters take them on over the slush of Europe?

    1. Hi, I'm Bob!

      Re: love the idea

      Or MAFIAA drones launched as kinetic missiles? (SInce they can't carry any other weapons but their own mass?)

  3. Nebulo

    Hey, Pirates

    The Vulture Central Aeronautical Consultants are only a call away ...

    1. Bill Neal
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Hey, Pirates

      Vulture Air Guard International Networking Assoc.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TPB must have some good chems?

    Like it would take all of a couple minutes to down their entire system. Hell UAV's could take them out enroute to something important. Time for plan "C"

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Finaly creedance to the terms - `server crash` and `node down`

    Whilst a novel idea I would question how long these drones can stay aloft, even without the radio useage upon power. Maybe if they went for a baloon with added propellas to aid in movement and controlled landings would be a cheaper and easier to maintain fuelwise. Maybe oneday they will have a baloon skin that can incorperate solar power collection; At a good price.

    The real issue will be amount and frequency used for radio's complying with not only nearby area's but also area's that the signal will bleed into and not even touching about the legal aspects of running model airplanes, let alone a AV at altitude.

    For there next plan there looking at encoding the packets into the DNA of flower pollen and using bee's to distrubute the data which is then.......

    Anyhow goodluck to them and if anything will add more credability to the effects of a node going down to teh non IT people out there.

  6. JeffyPooh

    "...100Mb/s per node from up to 50km away..."

    That's difficult.

    Being in an aeroplane makes it a bit easier, but it's still non-trivial.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't believe they'll do this for a minute, but: How much is this going to cost, compared to actually paying for the media in the first place?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Meh...

      I've built loitering dirigibles to pump directional WiMax out one end and backhauling across the HSDPA network on the other for just under $75K. (Admittedly, the prototype did have a tendency to wander half a province away and then crash, but that's a detail.)

      There are people that have this stuff commercialised, ruggedized, with excellent warrantee and support somewhere around the $100K price point.

      How the heck else are you going to get mid-bandwidth comns out into the middle of the fscking bush? Drilling platforms need communications, and loitering UAVs (in dirigible form) are a fairly well proven technology.

      There are even a number of companies working on solar powered blighters that can go for years instead of the average 3 weeks we get from our shed engineered toys. This isn’t science fiction. It’s done and dusted and well into "now, how efficient can we make it" territory.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meh...

        I didn't say it couldn't be done just that it'll be very expensive, what with the sheer number of uav needed and all the ground serving/storage. Also that when they are spending this sort of money, why not just buy the films/music in the first place?

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Meh...

          Buy a film, chances are you won't legally be able to view it excepting under very narrow and limited circumstances. Pirate it, and it is yours for life.

          No matter what the RIAA - or certain media bods - would have you believe, piracy isn't about the money. For some, it is about the challenge. For most, it is about convenience. The raw # of people who pirate "because they are too cheap to buy x" is pretty damned small.

          So why would they do this? Because they can. Because it is an interesting challenge. Because the real, live, flesh and blood human beings who are on the wrong end of the "consumer" ecosystem feel they have no other recourse but to do radical things like this in order to have their voices heard. Because a century's worth of propaganda has turned copyright from something we viewed as a balance between "the needs of the creator" and "the rights of society" into the natural, moral, ethical and god-given right of corporations to exert to maximum profit for eternity with zero restrictions or consideration of the common good.

          People pirate because it is easy. They pirate because it gives them a feeling of striking back against a corrupt system, of breaking the rules and because they feel they simply have no other recourse.

          They are aware of the pedantic arguments. "You can always just not watch/listen to/buy X!" that misses the point. It is based on a false assumption that pirates simply don't believe in: namely that "the market" - including everything from the 'laws' of supply and demand through to the idea that 'voting with your wallet' ever matters - works.

          They don't buy it. Capitalism is broken. Democracy is dead. The golden rule is all that matters, and most pirates view piracy as one of the only forms of civil disobedience they are capable of.

          And yes, some few - the rare few - do pirate because they are cheap But not the kinds of people who put the kind of time and effort into sites like TPB/Demonoid/etc. These folks have all sorts of other motivations.

          But that is a difficult message for many to hear, even harder for they to believe. For this to be understood, it would mean accepting that not all humans are motivated by the same things. That our genetic variations are so great - and our upbringings so diverse - that the fundamental motivations that underpin our behaviour and beliefs can and do vary per individual.

          It means accepting that avarice isn't the fundamental motivator for all people, and that black-and-white economic, social and political approaches (including everything from the perpetual expansion of copyright to failure to address the wealth gap) will never work. They will always alienate largish chunks of the population; to the bafflement of the simple-minded, this includes "haves" as well as "have nots."

          Many people are motivated by a sense of "fairness;" even if an action would benefit them, they would decline as they do not consider it to be "fair." Similarly, others seem to lack this altogether; fairness means nothing, only gaining an advantage.

          Piracy is a bizarre theatre of society because so many beliefs and social moores intersect and overlap. "The Man is a douche" meets "think of the creators!" and they both intersect with "I'm poor," "I want to do this seeming perfectly reasonable and logical thing but am not allowed," and "you don't own what you buy, you only license it.

          Attempts by one side or the other to resolve the issue almost always boil down to childish name-calling (freetards, MAFIAA), dehumanisation of those with differing beliefs and propaganda, propaganda, propaganda. It is a staple of this particular societal impasse that each side paint the other as completely irrational and lacking any semblance of ethics.

          But the issue of piracy surrounds a larger debate about the role intellectual property should play in our society. This in turn is linked to dissatisfaction amongst the hoi polloi with the extant plutocracy and the emerging corporatocracy.

          If it costs 10 million$ to make this happen, and there are people willing to oversee the project through to completion, $10 million will be found.

          Because it isn't (for most) about the money. It isn't about getting things "for free." It is about fairness, having a say in the decisions and laws that affect out entire society, and it is about respect

          The topic is not simple. And it is not easily resolved.

          If there were even an outside chance that this project would succeed, money would appear. Because (most) pirates are perfectly willing to pay good money for content. A fact few seem to understand.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Meh...

            @Trevor: Get over yourself.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Meh...

              I shouldn’t bite…but I’m legitimately curious. “Get over myself?” What exactly could you possibly mean by that?

              If you are attempting to implicate me as a pirate, I should inform you that I am Canadian. The “digital locks” legislation is only a very recent thing in my country, and under certain circumstances, downloading media here was indeed legal. We even pay a blank media tax to the media corporations to compensate for the possibility that we might copy some of their works. Until just recently, we could format shift to our heart’s desire.

              I have paid for my media collection. I pay my Microsoft Action Pack and Technet licenses. I have terabytes of media, but I also have the originals discs. (Put them in the same boxes as my software licenses.) I don’t fall into the category of “pirate.”

              So either are misinformed, and believe I was “defending my own piracy,” or you have a problem with what I wrote. If so, I’d like to know what.

              I’ve spent years talking to people about piracy. Pirates, media stooges, unaffiliated ideologues…I am fascinated by the entire debate. Indeed, in many ways it seems to me to have a close relationship (in participation, ideology and the vicious pro-status-quo propaganda thrown against it) with the occupy movement, and with net neutrality.

              In Canada, I see a lot of crossover with the anti-telco-monopoly movement, the electoral reform movement and the election financing/campaign transparency movements.

              I’ve done the leg work on this. I know what I’m talking about here. I am seriously considering a book or two on the subject. I think my comment presented the facts of the matter without unduly vilifying any of the many sides in the piracy debate

              Given the above, I can only conclude you’ve made some very false assumptions that have led you that have led you astray. That, or you have bought into the propaganda from one of the factions in this debate so thoroughly that so cannot accept that the reality of this world is not as it has been thus far represented to you. Good and bad, right and wrong, black and white.

              I understand the allure of such a thought process; simplicity breeds clarity, helps to hide or dismiss other uncomfortable concepts that might be raised. There may even be some personal ego thing involved wherein you feel any discussion of viewpoints opposing the one you support is a personal attack; an attempt to validate them and discredit you.

              In either case, I heartily recommend avoiding exposure to the internet, and tech sites in particular. The internet is (for the moment at least) a treasure trove of diverse opinion, experience and belief. Tech sites in particular are a veritable cavalcade of those very worst of intellectual sinners: individuals who question everything, including (in some cases especially) the propaganda handed us by others.

              If you are unable to stomach dissenting opinions, I recommend you go find yourself a largish edifice and create within its walls a temple to your beliefs. Attempt to attract followers, seek a tax exemption.

              That is where rigid and inflexible thought patterns and beliefs belong. The internet belongs to the rest of us. You have your sacred halls and your golden calves. We clain this space for our own.

  8. SkippyBing

    Act of War

    I think he's a bit confused, shooting one of these down would only be an act of war if they were registered and marked as belonging to the government of a nation state. Otherwise it's just a police action.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Act of War

      Depends who does it. I think if it was US drones shooting down European kit in European airspace there would be some major adverse publicity, if nothing else.

      I'm not an aerospace engineer, but the technology to do this is almost there in consumer budget ranges; if not here already from what I've been reading lately.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: major adverse publicity

        Oh, I don't know. They'd get some great publicity in the professional arms sales circles, which are likely to be more profitable than freetard music lovers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: major adverse publicity

          True enough; but after the pounding we've all taken from the MAFIAA et all with ACTA and all the rest of the copyright cobblers, the disapproval would come from much of the rest of the population of the planet who are also quite a lucrative market:

          "They've bent the laws; caused significant harm to society; sued kids and grandmothers and they're shooting at things now!?!"

          Can't see it going down well.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Act of War

        The merkins wouldn't need to shoot them down themselves. One snap of the fingers in Washington and half the air-forces in Europe would be scrambling to do their master's bidding.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Act of War

        "I think if it was US drones shooting down European kit in European airspace there would be some major adverse publicity, if nothing else."

        If this kit is floating around in European airspace, it will be European air forces shooting it down. This is an idiotic plan (a publicity stunt really) that could never be carried out without creating a real navigation hazard to air traffic.

    2. Killraven

      Re: Act of War

      International waters. Assuming a commercial pilot hired by the **IAA to shoot it down; that's nothing more than one company breaking another companies toys. Simple vandalism and no legal authority around to even make it a crime.

      1. hplasm

        International Waters?

        Wouldn't that make it an act of REAL piracy?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Act of War

      What's stopping the pirates from renouncing their native citizenship and creating a "Global" nation of pirates and set up a proper government with no physical land?

      Or plant a flag in the north pole and claim 1km of unclaimed land? Or on the seabed in international waters for that matter?

      Hmm well, might seem crazy to you, but who the hell decided the notion of a kingdom in the first place anyway? The mere fact is if there were enough mass (crazy people) out there who would do exactly just that. I'm afraid you're dealing with a situation that involves whether you would imprison or even 'terminate' all of them (say a few hundred thousand?).

      I don't see the UN or international rights campaigners shying away for some reason unless they managed to anger everybody else that is not part of their so called nation and gets mercilessly 'removed'.

      These are all speculation of course. But one has to ask whether it is in fact impossible?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Act of War

        The big problem is that most nations exist because of the ability to use force to

        assert their authority.

        In historical terms we have had pirate communities before, (Tortuga etc.) and the powers that be basically just went in and "took them out" when they became too troublesome, and the same thing would happen today, what they need to do is forge links and hosting with a country it would be very unwise to attack, and would enjoy being a pain in established Western countries sides, (and preferably not sitting on shedloads of oil), unfortunately such countries could easily have there own agenda as to what's put out.

        Myself I think their best plan would be to go stealth, make the way the site is delivered in such a way it's so distributed and redundant that the recording industry would need to shut down thousands maybe millions of servers to eradicate the service (No I don't know how) :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Act of War

          There's still a few rogue states kicking about. Something organised along the lines of The Aerican Empire (on page 2 of the previous link) would be quite hard to hit if sufficient people were involved.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Act of War

        "Or plant a flag in the north pole and claim 1km of unclaimed land? Or on the seabed in international waters for that matter?"

        You can't plant your flag where you like. Until someone with a big ship with lots of guns tell you to piss off RIGHT NOW or suffer the consequences.

        I know all the online keyboard warriors like to believe they run the show these days but in the real world its still the guy who can muster the greatest physical force who wins the day. Hacking someones computer might be a nuisance or even financially damaging - but thats easily trumped by putting a bullet in their heads.

  9. MrXavia

    If it was some kind of dirigible/weather balloon, I can see this being within the realms of possibility.... If they have the right minds behind it that is....

    Who fancies coming up with a standard for a constellation of low cost dirigible network access nodes?

    No central owner, just build, launch and they self configure!

  10. rpjs

    Have TPB

    Hired Michael O'Leary as a PR consultant?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Have TPB

      Timothy Leary maybe...

  11. NoneSuch Silver badge

    So El Reg. Are you claiming this is a Royal Air Farce?

    1. SoaG

      As in the Royal Canadian Air Farce the sketch comedy show on CBC radio and TV of the last ~40 years and counting?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would be easier and cheaper

    To just create a mesh style network using small and cheap solar powered wireless routers dotted around various parts of the country. People can buy them up cheap and plant them all over the place. Or fit them with USB sticks with updateable TPB servers on them in a P2P style 'server' on a mesh.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Would be easier and cheaper

      Nah. Terrestrial stations will inevitably transmit. Those transmissions can be triangulated and the stations located, no matter how many there are (it's well-known tech and Wifi transmits on specific frequencies). The law can take it from there.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Definitely a royal air farce

    TPB is in fantasy land.

  14. Dani Eder

    Diplomatic Immunity

    It would be easier to pay the embassy of some benighted third world country to host the server. Attacking that *would* be an international incident.

    Meanwhile, local pirate boxes (wifi transmitter + data storage) can be located in automobiles parked in busy locations, and solar-powered. By the time the Powers that Be figure out a site is transmitting, they can have moved on. The whole TPB index of magnet links + comments + descriptions can probably fit on a single flash drive these days.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Diplomatic Immunity

      Attacking, maybe. Pointing out that such a device might be construed as ESPIONAGE (which IS grounds under most treaties for the revocation of diplomatic immunities), that's another story.

  15. JimC

    Oh ****

    "We've not had our names in public for a few weeks"

    "Oh no worries, this load of ****** will do"

    "But no-ones going to fall for that"

    "Who cares, it will get 'printed' anyway"

  16. jubtastic1

    All sounds a bit Heath Robinson

    What's the problem with simply sticking the magnet links on a tor site or releasing a bt client that automatically distributes them mesh style? Oh, right, the business plan.

  17. tkioz

    Assuming they had the cash a boat with a tethered blimp would be possible fairly easily.

    I'm not sure if the tech is there for drones flying 24/7 but it's damn close...

    I wonder what the legality on taking down UAVs in international airspace... or ships for that matter? Would a U.S vessel boarding a "Pirate" ship hosting servers in international waters be considered an act of piracy?

    1. SkippyBing

      International waters are interesting from a legal point of view, it's hard enough for naval forces to stop a suspect pirate vessel unless they're actually doing some piracy.

      On the flip side if the blimp is presenting a danger to air navigation* then there's still probably some grounds for someone to take action against them, I don't see that it necessarily has to be the U.S. it's not as if the Pirate Bay's activities are considered above board in many countries.

      *Interpret this as you want if you're the aviation authority being affected, and they'd presumably have to be within line of sight of the coast to be of any use so high enough to be considered a nuisance at least.

      1. tkioz

        What if they were on a boat in international waters beaming to a private satellite that they owned and from there to ground stations? Could anyone do anything to them?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          I think the weak link would be the ground stations. In any such scheme, the weak link would be the connection(s) to existing networks. I would imagine law enforcement in most countries wouldn't have too much trouble cutting those off given the correct paperwork.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pirates can still be prosecuted in International waters

    International waters does not prevent you from being prosecuted for facilitating piracy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pirates can still be prosecuted in International waters

      Actual piracy, as in plundering other ships, yes. This is not the same as copyright infringement.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    What about routers?

    Why protect the servers? The authorities go after them because that's how they can hurt TPB, but if the servers were out of reach, so to speak, they'd just go after whatever or whoever is routing their traffic.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TPB want's three hots and a cot

    Clearly TPB folks want three hots and a cot at the iron Bar Hotel for the next 20+ years.

    1. Shades

      Re: TPB want's three hots and a cot

      Is that you again Morris?

  21. b166er

    @AC 02:36 -

    You come here with your swanky new sayings, but please, explain, why would they belong in prison?

    Personally, I think setting up a mesh network beyond the reach of regulatory bodies/dictatorial governments is a great idea. As someone else mentioned, just blueprint a self-configuring node and we'll work on getting the price right down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But you just know

      that somebody is going to fill it with CP and drug sales, and then law enforcement will step things up a gear.

  22. johnwerneken

    It's about time that somebody other than the Mafia or a Mafia clone (i.e. another government) defied the idea of LAW being enforceable when it's unwanted unneeded and uneconomic. And I thought it would take an Army or a force of ICBM's lol. This sounds much cheaper all around.

  23. MacroRodent

    Why not actual satellites?

    Microsatellite technology has brought them almost within the means of a well-funded hobbyist. Of course you would need several of them in low-earth orbit, one satellite would not stay long in the range of a ground station, but a full-coverage "PirateSat" network could be built gradually.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not actual satellites?

      I was going to suggest something similar; but if you're going to go that far, why not have a network of geosynchronous sats? More expensive, yes, but a lot harder to shoot down.

      1. Roger Greenwood

        Re: Why not actual satellites?

        Exactly - get some cubesats:-

        "Beyond the clouds" - sounds much better.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not actual satellites?

      Satellites have come down in price, but equipment to communicate with satellites is still not so cheap. And a satellite that can transmit to the earth's surface won't be cheap (BSkyB's cost about 200 million pounds).

  24. Dave 62

    that's one way to migrate to the cloud.

    sorry... no one had done it yet and..


  25. fixit_f

    How about a kite?

    If it's tethered to the land, where would that stand in law? You could generate some energy while you're at it

  26. 4a$$Monkey

    What they really need is...

    A giant pirate galleon shaped airship data-centre!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TPB is definitely "sky-high"

    The thin air must be killing their brain cells.

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