Pirate bay ads could lead to clampdown

Advertising revenue could be the Achilles heel for the popular Internet file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. Prosecutors have said that because the company is profiting from ad sales, it could face stricter laws.

In late May, Swedish police raided The Pirate Bay and confiscated the site’s servers. The men behind the site have said The Pirate Bay was a hobby project, but according to newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, hundreds of thousands of kronor are being made each month from advertisers more than willing to appear on one of the Internet’s most popular pages.

“If there is money left over, it will go to us who work at Pirate Bay as salaries,” site founder Fredrik Neij said to Svenska Dagbladet on Wednesday, adding that he plans on investing money in the site to prevent police from shutting it down again.

Prosecutors and police are combing through the servers taken in the raid nearly five weeks ago and are looking for evidence.

Swedish prosecutors are going to give special attention to any profits made by The Pirate Bay. Police will be looking at the book keeping and payments made with a focus on advertising revenue and taxes.

“It is going to be an entirely different penalty if it turns out they earn money through their work,” prosecutor Håkan Roswall said, according to Svenska Dagbladet. “We could also end up using material from other companies that have had a relationship with them.”

The investigation will continue throughout the rest of 2006.


Swedes ditch downloads for illegal streaming

Swedes are turning away from file-sharing sites like The Pirate Bay in favour of "safer" illegal streaming sites for new movies and TV shows, with experts claiming that Swedes would pay for content if a better solution was available.

Swedes ditch downloads for illegal streaming

The change is believed to be part of a long-term shift from downloading sites in favour of live-streaming portals where they are less likely to be caught.

However, experts have explained that just because users aren’t downloading a file, it doesn’t mean they are not breaking the law too.

Daniel Westman, researcher at the Swedish Law & Informatics Research Institute (Institutet för rättsinformatik) at Stockholm University, explained that without wiretapping, it’s tough to know who is performing the streaming and that users are less likely to get caught.

“Users who stream content don’t make copies and don’t upload content at the same time, but if they’re doing it illegally then it is still a problem,” he told The Local.

He argued that the problem lies in what he calls the “viewing window” between when a TV show or film is released and when it is available for viewing in Sweden.

“Although it has been a functioning model in the past, internet access and broadband speeds here in Sweden mean that the window just tests people’s patience,” he said.

While some streaming sites are legal, such as Netflix and HBO, other sites like the new are becoming more and more popular among impatient TV fans, especially with blockbuster television shows like Game of Thrones.

In fact, the word “Swefilmer” ranked third in the list of words that had shot up in popular Google search terms in Sweden last year. The second was Netflix.

Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) reported on Monday that the people behind Swefilmer had fought to remain anonymous, with leads to the owners and operators falling dead in Russia, Australia, and the UK.

In terms of a solution, Westman believes that it’s just a matter of providing the people with what they want.

“People are willing to pay if they can get what they want when they want it,” he told The Local.

“But we need to have both the carrot and the stick. The content needs to be available, easy to access, fast, and reasonably priced. But there will also always be people willing to break the law, no matter how the problem is attacked.”

Oliver Gee

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