In response to the recent flurry of aggressive takedowns against P2P and piracy-related websites, a group of programmers is working on a new, decentralised system that would make domains untouchable. The Dot-P2P project is partially powered, appropriately enough, by BitTorrent.
The problem - if you're either running or patronising a website that runs afoul of US copyright law - is that it's extremely easy for your site to be knocked offline, should a court give the OK. It might sound like a gross generalisation, but an enormous part of the internet is essentially owned by the United States. ICANN, responsible for handing out and maintaining the domain suffixes (.com, .org and the rest) is part of the US Department of Commerce and works closely with domain registrars. So when a court decided that rap music sharing site OnSmash.com had leaked its last album, yanking the domain from under its feet was a cinch.
The alternative system would direct browsers to .p2p domains, through a decentralised, BitTorrent-style system. No ICANN, no court interference, and, presumably, no takedowns. The project already has the backing of major internet rebels like Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde. Dot-P2P is still in its infancy, but as Sunde himself commented, is sending a clarion message: "If they try anything, we have weapons of making it harder for them to abuse it. If they then back down, we win." Just how righteous a battle this is depends on your views of copyright law, but it's an interesting take on web liberties nonetheless. [TorrentFreak]