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Italian prosecutor pursues The Pirate Bay

The preople behind the Swedish file sharing website The Pirate Bay could face charges in Italy as a Bergamo prosecutor continues a legal investigation.

Italian prosecutor Giancarlo Mancusis is conducting a legal investigation into the four men behind The Pirate Bay – Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundström, Swedish business daily Dagens Industri (DI) reports.

The investigation is the first of its kind against The Pirate Bay outside of Sweden’s borders.

Simona Lavagnini, a lawyer representing the Italian recording industry organisation Fimi, told DI that the recent convictions of The Pirate Bay founders by the Stockholm court has strengthened their resolve.

“We see the chances of a trial in Italy reaching the same result as good,” Lavagnini told DI.

The charges under investigation are the same as those in the Stockholm court trial – accessory to copyright infringement. A conviction could lead to imprisonment of between six months and three years as well as significant fines.

The Pirate Bay has employed two IT lawyers based in Sardinia to represent their interests, DI writes.

“The case will almost definitely reach court. But I do not understand how the prosecutor can prove “accessory” to crime. Nor do I understand how this can come under Italian criminal law,” one of the lawyers, Giovanni Gallus, said to DI.

The Pirate Bay has never located any servers in Italy nor used the country as a base for its activities. They have 450,000 contacts in Italy, around 2.3 percent of the total visitors to their site.

In August 2008 Fimi sued The Pirate Bay and an Italian judge ruled that the site should be blocked in Italy. The ruling was appealed and the case will be heard by the Italian supreme court in September.

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COPYRIGHT

Wikimedia ‘breaks copyright’ with Swedish statue photos

Sweden’s supreme court ruled on Monday that the non-profit internet giant Wikimedia breaches Sweden’s copyright laws by publishing photos of public artworks.

Wikimedia 'breaks copyright' with Swedish statue photos
Gothenburg's iconic Poseidon statue by Carl Milles. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

The controversial judgement is a victory for the Visual Copyright Society in Sweden (Bildupphovsrätt i Sverige – BUS), which sued Wikimedia at Stockholm District Court for publishing photos of Swedish public sculptures and other public artworks without first getting permission from the artists. 

“We are naturally very disappointed,” Wikimedia's Swedish operations manager Anna Troberg told The Local after the supreme court gave its guidance to the district court. 

“We view this as an anachronistic and restrictive interpretation of copyright laws. It also runs counter to recommendations from the European Court of Human Rights.”

Wikimedia is the group behind the free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia. It has created a vast online knowledge repository by allowing members of the public to group-edit entries and upload pictures to its pages for educational purposes. 

In its judgement the supreme court affirmed that Swedish copyright law does permit members of the public to take pictures of public artworks. But, the court said, “it is different when it’s a database where artworks are made available to the public to an unlimited extent without copyright-holders receiving any remuneration.”

“A database of this kind can be deemed to have a commercial value that is not inconsiderable,” the supreme court said in a statement.  

“The court rules that the copyright-holders are entitled to this value. It is not relevant whether or not Wikimedia has a commercial aim.” 

Wikimedia’s Anna Troberg said the group would now consult its lawyer and its parent foundation in the United States before deciding what action to take. 

“Our priority now will be to re-shape the debate, because clearly this is an outdated judgement. It is in no way in tune with the times that somebody should face legal repercussions for taking photos of public artworks that we have all paid for with our taxes.”