The Pirate Bay evades ISP blockade with IPv6, can do it 18 quintillion more times
If you thought the RIAA and MPAA were a force to be reckoned with in the US, the last few months have shown that anti-piracy lobbying is alive and kicking in Europe, too. Over the last 9 months, the British, Dutch, Finnish, and Belgian judges and governments have begun forcing ISPs to block The Pirate Bay. In some cases, ISPs were simply required to drop thepiratebay.org from their DNS servers — in the UK, however, ISPs must actively police and block IP addresses.
The problem with both DNS and IP address blocking is that they can be circumvented. The early DNS blocks could be avoided by simply using another DNS server, such as Google’s Public DNS. Circumventing blackholed IP addresses requires you to use a proxy or VPN (virtual private network), which basically skips around ISP’s network (and thus any blocked IP addresses). In Sweden, where The Pirate Bay has been blocked on and off for a few years, there has been a large uptick in VPN use.
Unfortunately, as UK and Netherlands ISPs and governments are quickly learning, it’s very easy for The Pirate Bay itself to evade an IP block; it simply has to use another IP address. Over the last month, The Pirate Bay first evaded ISPs by changing its address to 18.104.22.168 — and now, after the UK ISPs added it to their blocklists, the address has again changed to 22.214.171.124.
In theory, The Pirate Bay can simply keep changing IP addresses — and if you’re thinking about the fact that TPB has to run out of IPv4 addresses eventually, get this: In a hilarious twist, The Pirate Bay has now enabled IPv6 on 2002:c247:6b96::1. It is likely that TPB was allocated one IPv6 /64 subnet by its ISP, which equates to 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 addresses. It’s also possible that TPB simply applied to RIPE and obtained a /32 block, which is an address space so large that it’s not worth writing down. For ease of use, you can circumvent your ISP’s blockade by adding both the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to your Hosts file (works on Windows, Mac, and Linux).
Presumably, at some point, lobbies, ISPs and governments will grow tired of blocking The Pirate Bay. Every additional IP blackhole must cost tens or hundreds of man hours in court filings, memos, and rubber stamping. I guess the main point isn’t to block power users, though, but to stymy casual downloaders. Even on that front, though, a simple Google search of “how to access pirate bay” turns up a handful of ways of accessing the blocked site.
As always, it just feels like governments and lobby groups are trying to treat the symptoms of file sharing, rather than the cause. It took a service like iTunes to curb the Napsterish heyday of music piracy, and until similar services exist for TV, movies, and games, this whack-a-mole war will continue.