The Internet has been like a mix of the high seas and the Wild West — a mostly lawless arena with authorities struggling to contain the, let's call them, "creative" element.
Between SOPA, PIPA, and the rash of file-sharing websites going dark lately, it looks like this freewheeling era could be slowing down, though probably not coming to an end.
As such, we thought we'd look back on some of the most notorious, weirdest, over-the-top characters who set foot in the pirates-and-cowboys-movie that is the Web.
Also, we've ranked them loosely in order of their impact on the Internet.
Disclaimer: "Pirate" does not mean "criminal." We are making no moral or legal judgment on the actions of these individuals.
11. Hana Amal Beshara, aka Queen Phara, made her name with the super-high-quality movie streaming website NinjaVideo.
After being sentenced to 22 months in prison, she posted a series of weird Facebook comments trying to marshal her followers to support her and offering to pose in GQ or Maxim.
10. Peter Sunde currently awaits an eight-month jail sentence for his work with torrent site the Pirate Bay.
The Pirate Bay, which Sunde co-founded, consistently taunted authorities and labeled itself "The Galaxy's Most Resilient Torrent Site."
9. Mark Gorton created LimeWire, which claims to be the world's most popular p2p program.
He's been locked in litigation over the service as long as it's been alive. But Gorton also fills his office with Buddhas and Asian lions and is obsessed with revolutionizing traffic and the streets of New York.
(Source: Bloomberg; Reuters)
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