Internet pirates want their own nation

Monday, January 15, 2007

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Picture of Sealand.
Location of Sealand.

The Pirate Bay, a file-sharing website based in Sweden, seeks to purchase its own island nation in an attempt to escape copyright laws. A group of people has launched a campaign to collect money via the Internet to acquire a former British sea platform situated in the North Sea, six miles (9.6 kilometers) off the British coast.

The Pirate Bay states that the platform, named Sealand, will give users an easy way of sharing files protected by copyright in other nations. According to the statement made on the website, those who invest in purchasing Sealand will receive citizenship in it.

The platform was occupied in 1967 by the associates and family members of Paddy Roy Bates, a former radio broadcaster and former British Army Major, who now form its royal family. Prince Roy and Princess Joan Bates and their son Prince Regent Michael are willing to sell the platform for £65m. The royal family claims that it is independent and outside of any country's jurisdiction.

The sovereign status of the platform is disputed. The Government of the United Kingdom extended the territorial waters from 3 to 12 nautical miles after 1987, placing Sealand in its jurisdiction. However, Prince Roy simultaneously expanded the territory of Sealand and claimed continued independence. (See Sealand on Wikipedia.)

Hired estate agents from Spain estimate the price of the floating island to be about 504 million pounds. The Swedish website mentioned that it was looking for alternatives to acquire Sealand. It also mentioned that if the "Internet-pirate" community is not able to buy Sealand, it will look for another small place to claim as its own.

The Pirate Bay website was closed for some time in May 2006 due to Swedish police raids. The site was later re-opened from the Netherlands before moving back to Sweden.

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