Home & Office

Dutch prankster fools media with 'illegal file sharing' claim

OK... who fell for this then?
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

OK... who fell for this then?

A Dutch businessman who claimed he was going to turn the Netherlands into a file-sharing haven for users of illegal music download services has confessed his bold claims were little more than a publicity stunt. However, his admission comes too late for the dozens of publications and websites who first published his claims - even silicon.com's parent company CNet Networks was suckered in by Pieter Plass' plausible claims, along with Reuters and the Wall Street Journal to name but a few. The early April fool, unleashed on 23 February, looked like being the latest threat to the entertainment and recording industry when Plass announced plans make the Netherlands "to file sharing what the Swiss are to banking". He claimed his company, called PGR, which bills itself as 'The Honest Thief', planned to license its software and provide legal advice to others who hoped to set up the newest incarnation of peer-to-peer services. Plass declared his intention to make use of a loophole in Dutch law created by a court ruling last March which essentially paved the way for the Netherlands to become a legal haven for file-sharing activities. The appeals court said that file-swapping service KaZaA was not responsible for the illegal actions of people using its software. That decision is currently being appealed in a higher court. However, despite the fact that this is a loophole which does exist it appears Plass is not the man to exploit it. Plass told Reuters: "Reporters went to great length to research our story and the legitimacy of our claims. In all fairness, they could not have come to any other conclusion than that The Honest Thief file-sharing venture was for real." And if you're wondering, yes silicon.com did run the story.
Editorial standards