• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

‘Are they baby-eating monsters or what?’

The Local · 1 Oct 2008, 15:33

Published: 01 Oct 2008 15:33 GMT+02:00

The guys behind controversial file-sharing site The Pirate Bay have been called many things. Mostly they don’t care, but when people, especially representatives of the media, want to slip them into the tights of Robin Hood, they refuse to cooperate.

“Everyone wants to label us as a modern Robin Hood: the Robin Hood of the digital age. I hate that expression,” says Peter Sunde, one of the key figures of The Pirate Bay (TPB).

Pre-conceived notions abound when it comes to the Sweden-based file-sharing site.

But contrary to popular belief, The Pirate Bay’s leading lights do not spend their days cooped up in clandestine cellars plotting the downfall of the copyright society, as was revealed over the course of half a day in Stockholm in the company of Sunde and founder Fredrik Neij.

“We’re not the recluse type; we're very social computer [nerds],” Neij says with a smile.

Polite, humorous and down-to-earth, the two guys - who each recently turned 30 - speak patiently about their hobby.

“We believe in freedom of speech and the right to free communication between private individuals,” Sunde says.

“It seems as if many people have a hard time understanding that we have created a forum for information sharing; we’re not actually posting any of the material on TPB ourselves.”

The Pirate Bay has been accused of stealing from artists, cheating big corporations of trade secrets, and they are due in court some time in 2009 to face charges of copyright infringement involving music, movies and computer games.

Clearly there is a demand for what they have to offer: The Pirate Bay’s file sharing system plays host to 12 million unique visitors at any given time and the system gets four billion hits a day, says Sunde.

People upload movies, music, games and other content that can be shared electronically. This, some say, is illegal, but Sunde, Neij and the others involved in TPB are challenging the accepted rules.

“The idea is to enable anyone and everyone to share information, no matter what type of information, to whomever they want without being censored or moralized over,” Sunde explains.

“We try to let people understand the good things ‘pirates’ can do (we use the name ‘pirates’ to reclaim the word and make it positive) and to put the power of people in their own hands instead of the traditional media industry that edits the content that is out there.”

The most recent controversy surrounding The Pirate Bay involved uploaded autopsy photos of two murdered Swedish children. Sunde and Neij fully understand the heart-wrenching nature of the material for the family but say the photos were part of a public document posted by a user and they are determined not to censor TPB.

They do remove some content from the site however, Neij says. Around a dozen computer-savvy volunteers help moderate TPB.

“They remove spam, viruses and fakes,” Neij says. “And if something comes up that breaks Swedish law, something that looks like child pornography, for example, they send it to the police so they can decide.”

Sunde, who handles most of the press relations, has tried to explain to various media that it wasn’t them, the operators of TPB, who posted the autopsy photos.

Most headlines and reports about the photos of the murdered children failed to mention that the photos were part of a 2,700 page murder investigation, says Sunde.

The torrent had been downloaded 30 times before the media noticed the photos nestled somewhere in the middle of the rather large file. About a month after the news reports, the file had been downloaded some 50,000 times, says Neij.

“We get accused of publishing information that we have nothing to do with, all the while the newspapers and TV channels get higher ratings,” Sunde says. “You wonder who’s really making out on that deal.”

The Pirate Bay is not a profit-driven enterprise, Sunde explains. Sunde and Neij both have day jobs as IT consultants (surprise, surprise) to support themselves. TPB accepts donations and gets advertising money, which is used to pay for broadband and new computers.

“We are happy as long as it doesn’t make a loss,” Neij says.

TPB is not a registered business, not even an organization, Sunde explains. “It’s just a hobby that’s grown to be very, very large.”

So large, in fact, that companies and organizations around the world routinely invite The Pirate Bay operators to speak about their topic of expertise. Soon they are travelling to Malaysia to give their lecture, cheekily entitled: “How to dismantle a multi-billion dollar industry as a hobby.”

Of course, the topic does not go over well with everyone. The verbal wrath of Hollywood and various major record labels around the world is posted on The Pirate Bay web site under ‘legal’, a link that takes the curious to letters from global corporations such as DreamWorks and Apple.

The responses from Sunde, Neij and the moderators are posted under the same link. Some are pretty straight-forward, and most responses include explicit language.

Though busy juggling various projects -- including publishing a book, holding an art exhibit in Italy, consultancy work and active involvement with the Piratbyrån (The Pirate Bureau) lobby group, which advocates copying and sharing information and culture freely -- Sunde and Neij still find time for other hobbies. They travel a lot, for example.

When asked about their favourite travel destination, both answer: the Sinai Desert.

“We go there a lot, we know a Bedouin,” Neij says. He shows pictures on his cell phone of a long beach, a tent-like dwelling and azure blue water.

“This is the only place I can really relax,” he adds.

Sunde and Neij agree that The Pirate Bay story is difficult to encapsulate in one sitting. This is where documentary film maker Simon Klose comes in.

“We met during a demonstration and I thought: ‘Who are these guys? Are they baby-eating monsters or what?’ They piqued my curiosity,” he says.

Klose, who has also worked on movies about homeless people in Tokyo and car thieves in Johannesburg, says he is now making a documentary about “hackers in Stockholm.”

“It’s kind of an interesting situation,” he says. “This is the first time I’m making a documentary where I’m pretty sure that Hollywood will watch it.”

Peter Sunde

Age: 30

Favorite movie: Donnie Darko

Favorite song: Bougé Bougé/Magic System

Favorite colour: Right now, yellow

Favorite food: Pasta, the way I make it (Considers himself a great cook)

Idol: I respect a lot of people, but have no particular idol

Day job: IT-consultant, builds web sites and gives lectures

First job: Summer job at a cemetery

Education: High school drop-out, finished his school exams later

Story continues below…

Something you don’t think people know about you: I used to be a real good soccer player.

Fredrik Neij

Age: 30

Favorite movie: The Wall

Favorite song: Fear of the Dark/Iron Maiden

Favorite colour: Black

Favorite food: Chili Con Carne, very spicy (Eats out 95 percent of the time)

Idol: Quagmire in Family Guy

Day job: IT-consultant, operates a web hosting company

First job: Summer job at a factory

Education: High school drop-out

Something you don’t think people know about you: A lot, I hope.

Majsan Boström

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Today's headlines
Sweden to sizzle in the sun for a few more days
The beach at Båstad on Saturday. Photo: TT

The heatwave that hit most of Sweden last week is set to continue until Wednesday at least, according to Swedish weather forecaster, SMHI.

Swedish ex-prime minister Thorbjorn Fälldin dead at 90
Fälldin in 1981. Photo: TT/FLT-PICA

Thorbjorn Fälldin, the former farmer who became prime minister in Sweden's first non-Social Democratic government since World War II, has died at the age of 90.

Swedish police fear serial rapist on loose in Malmö
The attacker is thought to be in his mid-twenties and had been seen riding his bike in the area prior to the incident. Photo:TT

The rape of a 14-year-old girl in Malmö has led police to conjecture that there may be a serial rapist operating in the southern Swedish city.

Stockholm Pokémon hunter impaled on metal fence spike
Another Swede playing Pokémon Go in Stockholm. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

He tried to climb a fence to find more Pokémon.

Video
When Alicia Vikander taught us to put our pen in the bottle
Swedish actress Alicia Vikander and US talkshow host Jimmy Fallon. Photo: Tonight Show/NBC/Screenshot

We're not even sure if that's a euphemism or not.

Muslim man fired for not shaking women's hands
File photo of people shaking hands. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

A man is suing a local council in Sweden after he lost his job for refusing to shake hands with female colleagues.

Swedish bus driver who hit asylum seeker: 'I'm not racist'
The story has grabbed global headlines. Photo: Nobina

A Swedish bus driver caught on camera beating and kicking an asylum seeker has for the first time spoken to media.

Stay out, the water's filthy! Germs ruin Swedes' swims
Seagulls only.

Fancy a dip? If so, you might want to keep your mouth shut.

Man kicked off flight from Sweden over 'Isis tattoo'
A Norwegian plane at Stockholm Arlanda Airport. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

A flight from Stockholm was delayed on Thursday after it was claimed that one of the passengers had an Isis flag tattooed on his arm.

Homes
In pictures: Are Swedes falling in love with colour at last?
What happened to the Swedish greyscale? Photo: Linda Åhman

Antonia Wiklund of Houzz.se investigates why the Swedes are abandoning their sleek and clean interior design for vibrant colours.

Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
National
Watch this Swedish weather host leave his fly open... on live TV
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
The Local Voices
'I fled war in Syria. I never expected to be beaten in Sweden'
National
WATCH: Asylum seeker brutally beaten by Swedish bus driver
Blog updates

14 July

Boris Johnson: why Britain’s new foreign minister is cordially loathed (Globally Local) »

"There are lots of things to say about Boris Johnson, Britain’s new foreign secretary. He is…" READ »

 

11 July

Swedish quizzes (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I have created some quizzes you can take online to test your Swedish skills. Here…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Technology
Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
EU hits truck cartel with record price fixing fine
Society
OPINION: Why Sweden is the most extreme country in the world
The Local Voices
'There is equality in accommodation in Sweden: Everyone is suffering'
Sponsored Article
What can newcomers learn about Sweden at Almedalen?
Gallery
Property of the week: Gräsö, Östhammar
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th-17th
National
How to make sure you're not caught out by Sweden's old bank notes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Business & Money
Why Sweden has been named the most innovative country in Europe
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
Terror attack: what should you do?
National
French expat on the moment he was assaulted by a Stockholm bouncer
Technology
Gunman? Nah, smartphone Swede
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
The Local Voices
'If the war in Syria ended today, would you go back?'
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
The Local Voices
‘I feel like I’m living in a grave!’
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of Berlin
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Princess Victoria celebrates 39th birthday
Sponsored Article
Why you need a EuroBonus American Express Card
Gallery
People-watching: July 13th
National
Swedes discover surprise mountain
Politics
What Sweden's home secretary thinks of Britain's new PM
Gallery
Property of the week: Smedjebacken, Dalarna
The Local Voices
'Even xenophobic Swedes can be polite’
Politics
WATCH: A very Swedish take on Brexit...
National
Swede's fury at Daily Mail's Bråvalla 'lies'
Gallery
People-watching: July 8th-10th
National
Sweden and Denmark trolled each other on Twitter and it's hilarious
The Local Voices
'The best time to be smuggled to Europe is August 20th, 2015'
National
ANALYSIS: Why Swedes are talking more about immigration than before
National
Watch Icelanders cheer their Swedish hero coach
The Local Voices
Swedes: Stop obsessing over your material life and start talking to strangers
3,341
jobs available