Norway court rejects calls to block Pirate Bay

Communications company Telenor will not be forced to block customers from accessing popular Swedish file sharing website The Pirate Bay, a court in Norway decided on Friday.

The case arose after entertainment industry bosses demanded the service provider to take action.

The ruling states that Telenor and other internet service providers in Norway cannot be held liable for copyright violations that arise from illegal downloads and that a decision to block websites is better taken by the Norwegian authorities.

If courts forced providers to shut access, “Telenor and other internet providers, including private companies, may have to do an evaluation on whether an Internet page or service shall be blocked or not,” according to an excerpt of the judgement released by the Norwegian telecoms firm.

“This is an evaluation normally assigned to the authorities, and in the court’s view, today’s situation makes it unnatural to assign such responsibility to private companies,” the court said.

Last year, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) convinced judges in Denmark to force Swedish internet service provider Tele2, to shut access to The Pirate Bay.

But Telenor argued that Norwegian legislation could not be applied in the same way as Danish law.

“You can not sue a ladder manufacturer because someone used one of his ladders to commit a burglary,” Atle Lessum, Telenor spokesperson, told the newspaper Verdens Gang before the hearing.

“We therefore we reject imposed censorship like this,” he added.

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

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

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Sweden now owns Pirate Bay domain names

The Swedish state became the unlikely new owner of two domain names used by The Pirate Bay after a court ruling on Tuesday.

Sweden now owns Pirate Bay domain names
The Swedish state now owns two Pirate Bay domain names. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

In its ruling the Stockholm district court awarded Sweden the domain names and

The case marked the first time a Swedish prosecutor had asked for a web address to be wiped off the face of the internet, Dagens Nyheter reports

“A domain name assists a website. If the site is used for criminal purposes the domain name is a criminal instrument,” prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad told the Swedish daily earlier this year. 

Sweden’s Internet Infrastructure Foundation, which controls the Swedish top level domain .se, opposed the prosecutor’s move to prohibit any future use of the two Pirate Bay addresses.

The court agreed that the foundation had not done anything wrong and conceded that it could not force the group to block certain domain names, Dagens Nyheter reports. But by awarding the addresses to the Swedish state the court effectively ensured that they will not be sold on to another owner. 

The file-sharing service was temporarily knocked off line in December after police seized servers hosted at a data centre in a nuclear-proof bunker deep in a mountain outside Stockholm.

But seven weeks later the resilient file-sharing behemoth was back on its feet and Tuesday’s ruling is unlikely to knock it off balance for long, as the court cannot prevent The Pirate Bay from continuing to run sites on other domains.

The Pirate Bay, which grew into an international phenomenon after it was founded in Sweden in 2003, allows users to dodge copyright fees and share music, film and other files using bit torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site – resulting in huge losses for music and movie makers.

In 2009 four Swedes connected with The Pirate Bay were found guilty of being accessories to copyright infringement by a Swedish court. 

They were each give one-year jail terms and ordered to pay 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) in compensation.