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Pirate Bay guilty

Pirate Bay guilty

Published: 17 Apr 2009 15:50 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Apr 2009 15:50 GMT+02:00

The four men connected with The Pirate Bay were found guilty of being accessories to copyright infringement by a Swedish court on Friday, delivering a symbolic victory in the entertainment industry’s efforts to put a stop to the sharing of copyrighted material on the internet.

"The Stockholm district court has today convicted the four people charged with promoting other people's infringement of copyright laws," the court said in a statement.

The four defendants in the case, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, were each sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay 30 million kronor ($3.56 million) in damages.

The Stockholm District Court printed up 250 copies of the judgment to meet the expected interest from media outlets.

"By providing a website with ... well-developed search functions, easy uploading and storage possibilities, and with a tracker linked to the website, the accused have incited the crimes that the filesharers have committed," the court said in a statement to the media.

The court added that the four "knew that copyrighted material was being fileshared."

The one-year jail sentences were motivated by the "extensive accessibility of others' (copy)rights and the fact that the operation was conducted commercially and in an organized fashion."

In an unusual step, the court also held a press conference shortly after making the ruling public.

Taking questions from dozens of journalists, district court judge Tomas Norström explained that the 30 million kronor damages claim was to be paid together by all four men.

Thus, if one of the defendants doesn’t have the money to cover his share, one of the other men would have to pay a larger share of the claim.

Norström was also asked if the ruling meant that other websites such as Google, which handle bitTorrent files, are also illegal.

“We’ve looked at the conditions in this case,” answered Norström.

Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay makes it possible to skirt copyright fees and share music, film and computer game files using bitTorrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site.

None of the material can thus be found on The Pirate Bay server itself.

The four, who have denied any wrongdoing, are expected to appeal the verdict and have previously vowed to take the case as high as the Swedish Supreme Court if necessary.

The Pirate Bay claims to have some 22 million users worldwide.

Swedish police raided the company's offices several times and seized nearly 200 servers in 2006, temporarily shuttering the site. But it resurfaced a few days later with servers spread among different countries.

The site is still in operation.

According to public prosecutor Håkan Roswall, The Pirate Bay produced annual earnings of around 10 million kronor ($1.2 million).

He argued that the site was purely a business enterprise and that defendants should each receive prison sentences of up to one year.

Each of the four men charged in the case are connected to The Pirate Bay in different ways, although none claim to be the sole founder or primary operator of the site.

During the trial, they argued that they hadn’t earned a single krona from The Pirate Bay and that the site was more of a hobby. The income earned from advertising on the site simply covers the cost of operating The Pirate Bay, they claimed.

Specifically, the case dealt with alleged illegal file sharing of 20 songs, nine films, and four computer games with the US entertainment industry looking to claim up to $15 million in damages from the accused.

The courtroom proceedings, which concluded in early March, featured a number of tense moments, memorable quotes, and legal theatrics.

On the second day of the trial, Roswall announced he was amending the charges by removing all mention of "complicity in the production of copyrighted material".

"A sensation," defence lawyer Per E. Samuelson said at the time.

"It is very rare that you win half the case after one and a half days and it is clear that the prosecutor has been deeply affected by what we said yesterday."

Later, the defence accused prosecutors and lawyers for the entertainment industry of “Perry Mason tactics” when they attempted to introduce new documents into evidence.

And when Per Sundin, the head of Universal Music in Sweden, detailed the losses suffered by his company in recent years, he laid the blame squarely on The Pirate Bay, calling the site “the biggest and baddest villain” in the music industry’s battle against illegal file sharing.

But it was defendant Svartholm Warg who perhaps best summed up his and the other defendants’ attitudes toward the entertainment industry and prosecutor Roswall, following the latter’s argument in his closing statement that The Pirate Bay was a profitable business.

“The old bastard’s crazy,” he told the TT news agency during a break in the proceedings.

Attorney Per E. Samuelson, who represented Carl Lundström in the case, suspected that the Stockholm court had been subject to “political pressure” in reaching its judgment.

“Power, the establishment, all point their fingers at a group of young rebels who have found a new technology and say that they should be convicted. That makes it not so easy for the district court to resist such political pressure,” he told the TT news agency, adding that his client was “shocked and upset” over the verdict.

“He’s facing a damages claim of 30 million kronor and is also supposed to sit in prison for a year because he provided an internet connection. It’s incomprehensible to him,” said Samuelson.

Samuelson added that he plans to file an appeal as soon as possible, as did Jonas Nilsson, the attorney for Fredrik Neij.

While Friday’s ruling is an important step in clarifying some of the legal issues associated with the distribution of copyrighted material in the digital age, it is by no means the final word.

With an expected appeal by the defendants, the case may eventually be heard by Sweden’s Supreme Court, with a detour through the European Court of Justice also a possibility, according to many experts.

Either way, it will likely be several years before a final ruling in the case is reached, by which time today’s bitTorrent technology may very well have been replaced by a new method for sharing files on the internet.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:26 April 17, 2009 by Jasoncarter
I would suspect that this will go to appeal and might be overturned. I'm surprised that such a shambolic prosecution have managed to secure a conviction, but then this case is much more about setting an example than anything else. Anyway, if the case to be answered was 'Acting Like A Bunch Of Tw@ts' then the Pirate Bay blokes deserve to be sent down.
11:34 April 17, 2009 by VikingHumpingWitch
The day that becomes illegal I'm stuffed.

BTW, a friend has just pointed out that if linking to illegal material is illegal, then google is also illegal. Hehe.
11:45 April 17, 2009 by Puffin
I think that the results of this trial are largely irrelevant as I see it being appealed all the way to the highest court - Regeringsrätten
12:30 April 17, 2009 by Squiddy
I'm sorry but this is the biggest example off ass-hattery I have come across in a long while. The whole prosecution was a shambolic farce and couldn't prove a single one of their claims in court. Yes, those boys were rather arrogant in court but if that was a crime most of this country would be behind bars.

This smells very much of political interferance - wonder what 'favours' were done in order to secure the guilty verdict?

Gah!
12:48 April 17, 2009 by CptAmerica
Next on the prosecutors list has to be all the major stock holders and founders of google. otherwise this is just a witch hunt after some kids who hurt the feelings of some h-wood execs.
12:54 April 17, 2009 by Mzungu
...or bankers and stockbrokers who swindle people out of their savings...
13:00 April 17, 2009 by Kibiri
I dont agree with the whole way of persecution, but yet still want to point out your comparison with google is flawed. TPB is not only a specialized search engine, it also runs the trackers. After you find the torrent file via pirate bay or google or a friend emailing you, to be able to download you need the tracker to be active. Google doesnt run torrent trackers.
13:24 April 17, 2009 by Miss Kitten
Well, that is a real shame, but I suppose they court had to bow to political pressure and make an example out of the operators of TPB. It's very likely that the ruling will be overturned on appeal.

I for one am left wondering where the prosecution expects them to get the 30 million kronor they're supposed to pay. Despite the prosecution's ridiculous claim that they all have off shore accounts with millions on kronor in them, the operators of the TPB don't make any money off the site.
13:27 April 17, 2009 by Tasma
congratulations entertainment industry!

you successfully priced yourself out of business and you also provided poor quality choices for music and movies- what did they expect??

did they think people would blindly pay alot of money for crap?
13:56 April 17, 2009 by Dick Swinger
This sickens me,. Also I saw an advert for an online retailer selling an album for about 130:-! They should throw in a free catheter.

Some might say that i can choose not to buy the music... fine I choose not to buy it. Dont expect me to stop finding and listening to music though.
14:11 April 17, 2009 by Miss Kitten
I knew it. Piratpartiet has seen their membership skyrocket due to this ruling:

http://rickfalkvinge.se/2009/04/17/hur-pav...n-piratpartiet/
14:31 April 17, 2009 by The Lix-a
Well i wouldnt of cared about pirate bay a year ago i thought it was for teenagers i was happy with soulseek p2p, but then i started using it and i use it all the time now aswell as demonoid etc. Im really surprised theyre guilty! I didnt think they were actually breaking the law so what did they get charged for making money from piratebay? and not copyright ?!?

What about the other bit torrent trackers huh? you cant charge one and send them to prison and not the next!

As people have pointed out yep you can use google to search, stick this in for example

intitle:"index.of" (mp3) "pet shop boys" -html -htm -php -asp -cf -jsp

Well im not going to stop using bittorrent, ive got no qualms atall on downloading films, tv programmes, fiiing BBC!!

these film companies and theyre CGI, CGI more CGI, crap remakes, no ideas, polished to dribble!

I really dont want to see all these fat ass record companies win either with theyre manufactured, talentless, , money money obsessed, image, gormless, young people conning, bling shaking mongoloids!
14:39 April 17, 2009 by CptAmerica
They were convicted of being accessories to copyright infringement. How is google not guilty of this as well. On top of that, any torrent found on google can be downloaded without an active tracker using a client with dht (standard tech these days in all bt clients). I fail to see the flaw.
14:47 April 17, 2009 by Jasoncarter
Incidentally, google image search is the number one source of copyright infringement, and is regularly used by people to take other people's images and use them without permission or royalty payment. I've seen a number of images pop up in adverts for example that are on the first page of a google image search (there's one of a dolphin that gets used absolutely everywhere). If that's not accessory to copyright infringement I don't know what is. And having a little 'images may be copyrighted' disclaimer tucked away doesn't make matters any better.

Incidentally, Google image search has been the subject of a number of cases, including in the states, and has recently been found to infringe copyright by the German courts:

http://techdirt.com/articles/20081014/0038512534.shtml
16:19 April 17, 2009 by Miss Kitten
Interesting, indeed. How can simply linking to an image on the internet by considered by any means to be theft? This commenter sums it up quite nicely:
16:34 April 17, 2009 by VikingHumpingWitch
"how is posting a notice that some artwork is located in a particular place the same as stealing the artwork?"

Right, I'm off to report Gothenburg's Art Museum for accessory to theft by telling me where I can steal the "finsk samtida konst" (whatever the fan that is) between now and the 30th of August.
16:40 April 17, 2009 by Paulo +fab muscular than Jonnhy
Quite interesting! So, the court now will somehow reason in the same line. Let's hypothetically imagine that my own being motivated by envy steal some fabulous chick's long blond hair in Gamla Stan using no more than Nano Titanium sissors from Bonika Shears *does* it mean that said company is the one to be guilty?
17:10 April 17, 2009 by nic_tester
Not to mention that any part of any copyrighted book thats ever been made available on the internet resides on googles servers. Google gets its speed by having little programs roaming the internet and making an indexed copy of the entire internet on their own servers. This is especially true for text.
17:17 April 17, 2009 by Engelsmannen
Regardless of the moral and legal cases for and against filesharing, that boy deserves six months for the dodgy beard alone...
20:02 April 17, 2009 by Jasoncarter
Well, primarily, because every single image that pops up when you do a google image search is hosted on Google's own server - they don't just link to an image. That is to say that they take an image, duplicate it, and publish it themselves. You can certainly click through to the original image, but the image you are looking at - and that you can save and do what you like with - has been provided as a thumbnail by google.

Secondly, because Google images functions as a tool to provide direct access to an image and not to a context or owner. VHW is being a tad facetious but the argument extends to the museum, Google images and to Pirate Bay. They provide these images/files/artworks in a readily stealable form, collected in once place. Whether you choose to steal them is up to you.

For a bit more on how Google images facilitates copyright theft you can read this http://ferenc.biz/articles/who-stole-my-ha...fringement-101/
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