As expected, Facebook halts The Pirate Bay links

Facebook cites legal proceedings against the BitTorrent search engine as the reason

Facebook has ended its brief e-relationship with The Pirate Bay, the controversial BitTorrent search engine.

The Pirate Bay added a "Share on Facebook" button around two weeks ago to its site that allowed its users to post links to small information files, called torrents, on Facebook. The torrents are used to download audio, video and other content via the BitTorrent P-to-P (peer-to-peer) file-sharing network.

Facebook is now blocking those so-called "bookmarklets" as well as any links from The Pirate Bay, said Peter Sunde, of The Pirate Bay. The development was first reported by the file-sharing blog TorrentFreak.

Sunde said he received an e-mail from Facebook justifying the action because of the legal proceedings against The Pirate Bay.

Sunde and three other men are awaiting return of a verdict on April 17 from a trial that concluded early last month in Stockholm. They are charged with helping to make available material under copyright.

The Pirate Bay has been under fire for years from the content industry, which alleges the site facilitates the piracy of content under copyright even though it is just a search engine for torrents. The content is hosted on users' computers, and the downloading is facilitated by the torrent.

Sunde contends Facebook is unfairly censoring content. "Now they are deciding what you and your friends can talk about, which is quite annoying," he said.

Facebook said in a statement that it asked The Pirate Bay to remove the "Share on Facebook" feature, but that the search engine did not respond, "so we have blocked their torrents from being shared."

Facebook publishes bits of code that can be used on other Web sites to share content on the popular social-networking site. In the case of The Pirate Bay, clicking the "Share on Facebook" button brings up a window where a user could share the torrent with their Facebook friends. If the Facebook user has a BitTorrent-compatible download client on their computer, the content will begin downloading.

Facebook's terms of use would appear to ban torrents for material shared without the copyright holder's permission.

"We prohibit users from uploading, posting or otherwise transmitting on the Facebook Web site or service any materials that violate another party's intellectual property rights," according to the terms of use.

The Pirate Bay could undertake other countermeasures, such as using URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortening services, to get around the ban. That would require Facebook to implement a system to check those shortened URLs and block those going to The Pirate Bay.

"The problem is we don't want to hide," Sunde said. "We'd rather take on the fight."

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