File-sharing site The Pirate Bay says it has no plans to remove the blueprints for the ‘Liberator’ gun – which can be used to create a functional weapon using a 3D printer – despite the US State Department forcing the original host to take down the files.
Designed by radical US libertarian Cody Wilson, the Liberator is the world’s first fully 3D printed firearm. When it was unveiled on Wilson’s DEFCAD website earlier this week, it was immediately downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people, with millions more getting the design off file-sharing websites.
The US State Department then asked Wilson to take down his blueprints, citing a possible violation of arms export regulations pending review, which he has done.
But The Pirate Bay (TPB), the Swedish-founded torrent website, which is currently operating through a domain name registered on the Caribbean island of Saint Maarten, does not plan to follow suit.
“TPB has for close to 10 years been operating without taking down one single torrent due to pressure from the outside. And it will never start doing that,” a senior insider told TorrentFreak news portal.
As well, as free speech, in justifying its decision TPB invoked a defense that echoed the National Rifle Association’s unofficial slogan (‘Guns don’t kill people. People kill people’).
“The problem is not the object but what you do with it. Just as with a cooking knife.”
Although Wilson has posted a video of himself successfully using the one-shot pistol that has garnered more than 3 million views on YouTube, it is not clear how practical or safe it would be to re-create the blueprints. Wilson used an $8,000 second-hand Stratasys Dimension SST printer, which makes three-dimensional objects by ‘printing’ a series of layers on top of each other with polymers.
Similarly to Wilson himself, Pirate Bay believes the blueprints are not to be taken at face value (“We laugh at their gun love since it’s so obviously the wrong way to go.”) but are a starting point for a public debate on personal freedoms and state authority.
“We think that the good thing about the discussion about 3D printers and their gun laws might bring more focus on the double standards that the US is having and hopefully – people will start printing signs to protest against the guns, the corruption and the threats against freedom of speech that the US is pushing on us,” said the Pirate Bay insider.
Regardless of the file-sharing portal’s stance, and edicts from the US State Department, it is almost impossible to remove files from the internet once they have been shared, as long as there is demand. At the time of writing, the blueprints remain a popular download on most file-sharing websites based across the world, and even if they were all shut down simultaneously, the files could easily be re-uploaded from the millions of hard disks on which they are already stored.