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It’s a Long Way from Antigua via Amphioxus

Something occurred to me this morning, regarding the whole business of the li’l teeny island of Antigua setting up a legal pirate’s marketplace of Other People’s Stuff: Dare you to get it out of there.

I looked and did not find any current indication of how much bandwidth connects Antigua (or lord knows, Barbuda) to anywhere else. (Five-year-old data here.) So picture it with me: The day after the island’s government launches a dollar store for digital content (or licenses three dozen pirate wannabees to do it themselves) everybody in creation storms down there to get Windows 7 or the Five Gazillion Pack of ebooks for the price of an Egg McMuffin. What happens next?


Really: Nothing. The island’s Internet connection, no matter how good it is, goes belly-up from the stampede.

Now, don’t bother reminding me that Antigua was doing a fine business in online gambling, and to do that they needed a decent connection to the world. Sure. But how much bandwidth do you need to place bets or play what amounts to animated board games? The big deal in pirated content these days is movie and TV rips, and those are ginormous compared to anything you’d see on a gambling site. Individual ebooks or music tracks could move reasonably well, assuming everybody didn’t go there at once. Which they will. However, even a relatively small number of people downloading the last forty episodes of How I Met Your Mother would bring whatever Antigua considered a backbone to its knees. An amphioxus has more backbone than a squid. But just about anything has more backbone than an amphioxus.

I wonder if anyone will set up a seedbox host provider there. Torrent like hell 24/7 with all the other seedboxes, and then take a year to download it all back home.

Not likely. All this leads me to conclude that Big Media isn’t making a great deal of noise about this because they already know it won’t work. Some handful of people might fly there with a fat laptop and encrypt a terabyte of TV shows to make it look like unused hard disk space. On the other hand, people coming back from Antigua with a laptop and no tan will be looked at very carefully by US customs.

So there’s less here than meets the eye. It’ll still be interesting to watch, and I reserve the right to be completely wrong. Bandwidth physics is one helluva harsh mistress.


  1. Bob Fegert says:

    I was wondering about their bandwidth.

    Still, I would not dismiss the ability of pirate happy geeks to find a way. They could perhaps start a VPN/P2P service passing encrypted files, the keys could be sent from Antigua. You can use TOR to get files from Pirate Bay right now if you know how to set it up…but it’s SLOW and harms TOR’s functionality for more important traffic.

    Anyone who trusts a US based VPN for grabbing pirated files using P2P is risking disaster. There simply is NO data or ID security when using any US based system. (US based cloud computing is dying since Snowden’s revelations)

    Then there is the fact that ebooks are incredibly tiny files. Perhaps Antigua will become the ebook pirate capitol of the world.

    Byte for byte an ebook is far more valuable than any other file type.
    A 100 dollar ebook can be compressed and sent in less than a megabyte. A 20 dollar bluray might be 25 gigabytes.

    I prefer actual paper books…it’s worth the extra cost just to be able to scribble notes in them…they are very hard to pirate 🙂

  2. Tony says:

    Nice post. 🙂

    After our discussion on FB I agree with your view and why it won’t work.

  3. The fly in the ointment is that if they seed torrents and provide torrent directory service (not sure what it’s called) from there, the heavy bandwidth lifting can be provided by others. The real gating factor to the availability of pirated material (IMHO) is the ability to find it easily. THAT, they could host.


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