Going after Pirate Bay for sharing BitTorrent files that refer users to copyright-infringing files is akin to going after the Yellow Pages for publishing the phone number to a restaurant owned by the mob. They are both nothing more than technologies that can be used either legally or illegally.
Everything any of us does online involves file-sharing. By sending an email, you’re creating a file and sharing it with the recipient. By surfing to a web page, the file that marks up that web page is being shared with you; the JPG and GIF files on that page are being shared with you. By viewing a video on YouTube, a Flash video file is being shared with you. The code of this web page now exists both on the computer that holds this website AND on your computer AND, unless they’ve all cleared their caches, on the computers of every other person who has read this web page.
The Internet was borne out of Arpanet, a Cold War system for information redundancy during the event of a nuclear attack. The Internet IS file-sharing.
Copyright is nothing more than a social agreement about who has control over the supply of an item. Because media conglomerates – studios, record labels, etc. – have in the past relied wholly upon supply control to achieve their goals (X copies going to Y outlets in Z territories) and are stuck in that archaic mindset, they are having difficulties with this new medium which exists solely through a lack of supply control.
The only thing media conglomerates have going for them is deep pockets, but all the cash in the world won’t make an iota of difference when you’re going up against the very essence of the medium itself.
As soon as the media conglomerates picked up their swords, they lost their battle. And somewhere Sun Tzu thought to himself, “Told you so.”