The Pirate Bay today, you'll notice an important name change. The website has temporarily rebranded itself as "Research Bay" and is asking users to participate in a brief survey about the values of the file-sharing community.If you head over to the file-sharing website
The research is being undertaken by the Cybernorms group at Sweden's Lund University. The sociologists are interested in how the Internet shapes norms - both social and legal - and this study looks more closely on how those norms play out vis-a-vis file-sharing. "With your help," reads the survey's introduction, "we hope to create a knowledge base that will influence new laws and law enforcement related to the Internet."
The survey is very simple, and you can fill it out in just a couple of minutes. Because the sensitive (and potentially illegal) nature of the responses, everything in the survey is confidential and no personally identifiable information will be tracked.
The Cybernorms group made headlines with its research several years ago that analyzed users' behavioral changes when file-sharing became illegal. That research found that there were no social norms that inhibited people from file-sharing.
Moreover, it also found that making file-sharing illegal would do little to stop the practice: "There are strong indications that neither the law in itself nor new legal attempts at enforcing copyright will change the social norm on illegal file sharing. To the opposite, there is a documented willingness of paying for anonymity, keeping the internet flow of content, rather than return to a system of payment for each product."
As one of the most popular BitTorrent sites in the world, The Pirate Bay has a clear interest in supporting this research. And in turn, by collaborating with The Pirate Bay, researchers now have access to a sizable population of active file-sharers. We'll keep you posted on the results.