The Pirate Bay plans to buy island
Published: 12th January 2007 12:37 CET
Swedish file-sharing website The Pirate Bay is planning to buy its own nation in an attempt to circumvent international copyright laws.
The group has set up a campaign to raise money to buy Sealand, a former British naval platform in the North Sea that has been designated a 'micronation', and claims to be outside the jurisdiction of the UK or any other country.
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The Pirate Bay says it is the world's largest 'bit torrent tracker', and is a popular way of sharing music, films, software and other copyrighted material online. It has been under the scrutiny of authorities in Sweden and around the world for some time.
The site was briefly closed down after raids by the Swedish police last May. After initially moving to the Netherlands, the site returned to Sweden in June. Swedish authorities have been put under pressure to do more to stop the site. The Motion Picture Association of America, the Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau and the US government have all lobbied for The Pirate Bay's closure.
According to a website set up to secure the purchase of Sealand, The Pirate Bay plans to give citizenship of the micronation to anyone willing to put money towards the purchase.
"It should be a great place for everybody, with high-speed Internet access, no copyright laws and VIP accounts to The Pirate Bay," the organisation claims on its website www.buysealand.com
The "island" of Sealand, seven miles off the coast of southern England, was settled in 1967 by an English major, Paddy Roy Bates. Bates proclaimed Sealand a state, issuing passports and gold and silver Sealand dollars and declaring himself Prince Roy.
When the British Royal Navy tried to evict Prince Roy in 1968, a judge ruled that the platform was outside British territorial waters and therefore beyond government control.
The British government subsequently extended its territorial waters from three to twelve nautical miles from the coast, which would include Sealand, but Prince Roy simultaneously extended Sealand's waters, claimed that this guaranteed Sealand's sovereignty.
The island is now being put up for sale by Prince Roy's son, Prince Michael, who styles himself head of state. A firm of Spanish estate agents has valued the island at £504 million (about 7 billion kronor), although Prince Michael told The Times of London that it is hard to gauge how much it will fetch in reality.
The Pirate Bay says it is looking at alternatives to buying the former naval platform.
"If we do not get enough money required to buy the micronation of Sealand, we will try to buy another small island somwhere and claim it as our own country," the organization says on its website.