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Pirate Bay founder takes case to European court

The Local/og · 14 May 2012, 10:19

Published: 14 May 2012 10:19 GMT+02:00

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“It’s just like saying the post office should be in court for delivering a letter with illegal content,” wrote Joans Nilsson, the lawyer for Pirate Bay founder Fredrik Neij, in an opinion article published Monday in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Neij was one of four men convicted in April 2009 by a Swedish court for being accessories to copyright violation for their role in founding and operating the Pirate Bay.

They were sentenced to a year's imprisonment apiece and a combined fine of 30 million kronor ($4.4 million).

Neij, along with co-defendents Carl Lundström, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, and Peter Sunde, appealed their sentences, with the Svea Court of Appeal ruling in November to uphold the convictions, with the exception of Gottfried Svartholm Warg, who was absent due to illness.

In February, however the Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta Domstolen), announced it would not grant the right to appeal in the case, meaning the appeal's court sentence would stand.

But now Neij is taking his case to the European Court of Human rights.

“We want deeper scrutiny to determine whether it’s actually right to convict Fredrik Neij as the responsible party for how others have used The Pirate Bay,” Nilsson wrote in DN.

"The fact that there is no clear legislation or legal precedent in an area that affects us all - the internet - constitutes a problem for the rule of law."

Meanwhile, Neij's fellow Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde last week requested a pardon for his conviction in the case, which left him facing an eight-month prison sentence.

While his prison sentence was due to begin on Wednesday, Sunde sought a pardon due to health reasons and his work with Flattr, a micro-donation file and money sharing site, according to documents filed by his lawyers.

Story continues below…

It was revealed in March that Sunde, who was also the spokesperson for Pirate Bay, was set to head to the Västervik Norra prison in south eastern Sweden for his prison stint.

Fredrik Neij, meanwhile, was headed for Kirseberg in Malmö for his ten months.

The Local/og (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:43 May 14, 2012 by Snood
Well, It's a long shot for sure. Good luck to him though.
12:39 May 14, 2012 by byke
I am not a supporter of such sites.

But this whole case does yet again put the swedish judicial system into question, regards to how they have handled this case and the sentences they have passed.

Technology has clearly surpassed a multi million kronor industry.

And led to judgements that put the swedish legal system into shame, in an attempt to appease a market that has clearly failed to address the changing times of technology.

This idea of using a legal system to set a precedence at the cost of liberty and value of such key institutions in a democracy within the EU in an attempt to help a market that has dragged its heals over such changes is a farce.

Maybe we should charge those who reported such or brought the case to court as an accessory to the crime for simply mentioning it.

I really hope the EU do step in an overturn this.

Shame on you Sweden.
12:54 May 14, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
The post offices of the world were established in good faith, as a way for people to communicate by mail, to receive printed media, and to send packages to each other. The Pirate Bay is not a post office.

Any pretense that the Pirate Bay founders were setting up their sharing facility to only share material that could be distributed with the permission of the copyright holders is a colossal farce. The Pirate Bay founders knew full well what crimes they were enabling, and simply did not care. Now that they have been held to account, they are unwilling to face the consequences.

The only aspect of the judgement against them that I disagree with is the size of the financial penalty, unless they made that sort of sum in advertising on their site, or through some sort of revenue stream. In that case, pay up. If not, then it is an insult to all the murder victims of Sweden, when the families or orphans only receive 50,000 to 200,000 SEK in compensation from the murderer, while those guilty of theft are handed a 30 million SEK fine. In this regard, shame on you Sweden. Otherwise, Sweden has no reason to be ashamed here.
13:12 May 14, 2012 by byke
@Reason and Realism

Should CNN or any other news agency held in the same account for reporting or referring to crimes and profiting from such through advertising?
14:29 May 14, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ byke, post 4

If CNN is merely reporting a crime, rather than committing a crime, then CNN should not find itself in legal trouble.

But if CNN enables a crime, by telling its viewers that it has set up a website to enable people to distribute copyrighted material without the explicit permission of the copyright holders, then CNN is guilty of a crime, in the same way that the driver of the getaway car after a robbery is an accessory to the crime, even if he made no money himself.

It is prudent of all business owners to attempt to keep up with technology to prevent theft, but there is a still greater civic responsibility is on individuals not to commit theft in the first place. The consumer has the option not to buy something if he/she feels it is too expensive. Music on demand is a convenience, not a necessity, like air or water.

As the fraction of companies that produce software or digital content becomes an increasingly large part of the modern world's GDP, the prevention of theft of digital material will become increasingly important. The Pirate Bay founders, who set up their site years after Napster lost its own court battle in the US, should have known better.
14:53 May 14, 2012 by N18h7m4r3
@Reason and Realism

Putting this in short lets prosecute all those who sell weapons (legally) for the murders done by somebody else. They are also an accessory to that crime aren't they.

The list might very well include Google and other websites for the same reason as they can "help" one with all kinds of crime imaginable.
16:11 May 14, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ N18h7m4r3

The law of most lands is that it is legal to sell guns under the assumption that these will be used for hunting or target shooting, but it is illegal to murder people.

Likewise it is legal to have internet connections and computers for a variety of uses, but illegal to use these for the theft or illegal distribution of books, movies, or music, or to metaphorically 'drive the getaway car' by setting up a site expressely designed to allow thieves to exchange and distribute stolen goods on a massive international scale. Of course the individuals who distribute their music, movies and books are also guilty, just more difficult to catch.

Gun control is a controversial issue, and one could in fact blame governments for taking insufficient precautions with regard to gun sales or storage, but for whatever reasons governments have been far more firm with regard to the theft of digital material, and they have made that known to everyone.

In this case criminal intent was a key part of the judgement against Pirate Bay. Pirate Bay did not set up some site to rescue lost puppies, and then discover to their surprise that people were using it to steal digital content. They knew what they were doing, and went out of their way to try to place servers in locations where they could sidestep the law (such as areal devices), and so at the end of the day they are not innocent of violations under international trade treaties, even if they are heros among many consumers of digital media.
03:19 May 15, 2012 by skumdum
Google provides the same service as the pirate bay, so wy aren't they on trial? Because Google is a multi billion dollar AMERICAN company.
09:39 May 15, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ skumdum

America brought Napster, an American company, to trial, and shut them down. The Pirate Bay was not only enabling the theft of American produced digital content, but also the digital content produced by artists in Sweden and 100 other nations. And it's not like the Pirate Bay was employing 100's of Swedes who all lost their jobs when the Pirate Bay was shut down, and even if that was the case, their jobs would have been illegitemate to begin with.

As far as I am aware Google does not maintain a public website where people from all around the world are invited to upload and download unlimited amounts of copyrighted digital content for free. Google has worked to create a digital library of books whose copyright has expired, but that is not illegal.

If Google or Yahoo do have sites that enable people to upload content for the whole world to download, then they have an obligation to withdraw copyrighted material. YouTube must operate under similar legal restrictions.
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