In a recent ruling by the Australian supreme court against ISPs being responsible for its users’ copyright infringement:
“To use the rather colourful imagery that internet piracy conjures up in a highly imperfect analogy, the file being shared in the swarm is the treasure, the BitTorrent client is the ship, the .torrent file is the treasure map, The Pirate Bay provides treasure maps free of charge and the tracker is the wise old man that needs to be consulted to understand the treasure map.”
I think the analogy is quite accurate, with the exception of the treasure being something congruous to gold doubloons. To be more accurate, the treasure would magically self-replicate itself – at first from the goldsmith’s treasure chest, and then from each pirate to have pirated a piece; but by doing so, because of the treasure’s self-replicating ability, no one is ever deprived of any of the treasure. Rather, the treasure can be spread to a much greater magnitude of pirates, many of whom may otherwise never have known about the treasure or its (magical) goldsmith. With a much greater pool of fans for his/her gold, the goldsmith would have a better chance of making money off their treasure – by making more treasures, offering them in ways that pirates would be willing to pay for, and even charging pirates to see the goldsmith work his/her magic in person.
It sure beats the model of a few goldsmiths, chosen by a handful of businessmen who advertising the goldsmith’s (often inferior) treasure on a massive scale, sell it for a greatly inflated rate, block anyone from using its magical self-replicating feature, and then pay the goldsmith a pittance for their creation.
In terms of legal precedent, it’s great that the judge actually took the time to completely understand the technical implications of the case before making a ruling. If more judges would take that much time and care in their cases, the world would be a much better place for the great majority of its inhabitants, if a little less cozy for its richest.