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Supersite’s infamous owners accused of accessory to copyright infringement

Piracy supersite ThePirateBay.org has a reputation for staying a step ahead of the law, proudly defying media titans and shouting a litany of legal triumphs to anyone who’d listen. This week, however, it appears that The Pirate Bay’s past may just catch up with it, as Swedish prosecutors announced late last week that they will file formal charges against The Pirate Bay’s administrators on January 31.

Sweden’s announcement follows a similar statement of intent announced late last year, which in turn followed up a “vow” by Swedish prosecutors to charge the site with piracy.

Rather than attack The Pirate Bay itself, Swedish authorities accused the site’s administrators of accessory and conspiracy to break copyright law – charges that carry fines at best and a couple years in prison at worst. While an exact list of the individuals to be charged was not released, it is expected that such a list contains The Pirate Bay’s public faces – Peter “brokep” Sunde, Gottfrid “anakata” Svartholm, and Fredrik “TiAMO” Neij, as well as Swedish neo-fascist Carl Lundström, who hosted the site via his company, Rix Telecom.

Swedish prosecutor Håkan Roswall seems confident that The Pirate Bay’s organizers can be brought to justice, calling the case a “classic example of accessory – to act as intermediary between people who commit crimes, whether it’s in the physical or the virtual world.”

“It's not merely a search engine. It's an active part of an action that aims at, and also leads to, making copyright protected material available,” said Roswall.

Sunde seems to think otherwise, noting that The Pirate Bay does doesn’t host any infringing data and that he and his colleagues can’t be held responsible for the limited data that the site does provide. In an interview with Reuters, Sunde called the accusations “idiotic,” and claimed that Swedish authorities had “no legal ground” for the accessory charges to be pressed against him.

The Pirate Bay was knocked offline briefly in 2006 when Swedish police raided the site’s datacenter, then located in Stockholm. While it was expected that the raid – which resulted in the confiscation of at least 180 servers – would yield voluminous amounts of evidence, a May 2007 leak revealed that Swedish police had a hard time finding anything useful. At the time, Sunde claimed an informant told him that Swedish police had exactly nothing to pursue charges with, and yet continued to press on anyway. Now, it appears that the raid wasn’t a complete wash, as the accessory charges are based in part from evidence gleamed from the 2006 raid.

Still, The Pirate Bay is confident that it will withstand whatever legal threats, charges, and convictions are thrown its way: the site’s infrastructure is spread across the globe, and done in such a way that not even Sunde, Svartholm, and Neij know where everything is. “Because the infrastructure is scattered among several places around the world,” said Roswall, “no separate country will be able to stop the site.”



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RE: Uh oh
By masher2 (blog) on 1/29/2008 11:20:04 AM , Rating: -1
> "TPB seems to have their ducks in a row..."

quote:
Swedish authorities accused the site’s administrators of accessory and conspiracy to break copyright law...Swedish prosecutor Håkan Roswall seems confident that The Pirate Bay’s organizers can be brought to justice
If that's having your ducks in a row, I'd hate to see them out of line.


RE: Uh oh
By eyebeeemmpawn on 1/29/2008 11:43:58 AM , Rating: 3
What? Your quote doesn't say anything. It says the prosecutor "seems confident". I bet the police seemed pretty confident when they were about to raid the data center.


RE: Uh oh
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 1/29/2008 12:41:36 PM , Rating: 4
Well to be fair, accessory and conspiracy are pretty grey and I doubt any judge would be willing to stick his neck out on those. Unless the Swedish authorities have something concrete this is going nowhere and will just be a show to apease the RIAA.


RE: Uh oh
By JustTom on 1/29/2008 1:02:07 PM , Rating: 1
On what do you base your conclusion, there is no concrete data either way at this time. Just blathering propoganda from both sides. And it seems that this is much more than appeasement of RIAA. The Swedish police would going to such lengths to appease an American organization is extremely problematic in my mind.


RE: Uh oh
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 1/29/2008 1:33:22 PM , Rating: 2
It's not the swedish police, its the swedish government trying to make nice on WTO pressure. I see this as highly possible but I agree that them going to such lengths is problematic. It doesn't mean they wouldn't do it either.


RE: Uh oh
By JustTom on 1/29/2008 6:23:05 PM , Rating: 2
I don't disagree that is a possibility, but speculation to motive is just that. Personally, I think it is more likely that TPB pissed off the wrong people in the Swedish government and brought a whole lot of trouble down on themselves. Don't understimate the power of bureaucrat with axes to grind.


RE: Uh oh
By masher2 (blog) on 1/30/2008 2:18:53 AM , Rating: 2
> "It's not the swedish police, its the swedish government "

You do realize the police force is a branch of government, right?


RE: Uh oh
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 1/30/2008 8:44:40 AM , Rating: 2
Yes. However the police themselves are nothing more than law enforcement pawns. The guys pulling the strings on this are considerably higher up.


RE: Uh oh
By PWNettle on 1/29/2008 3:51:22 PM , Rating: 2
Why wouldn't any judge put the smack down on people who flaunt the law and promote illegal behaviors if given any chance to do so? Gray area means the judge can lean whichever way s/he chooses, so why would any judge side with obvious criminals?


RE: Uh oh
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 1/29/2008 4:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
It's not obvious in the court of law. This is why they are still allowed to operate. Don't think with U.S. style of laws, this is Sweden were talking about and it's a whole different ballgame.


RE: Uh oh
By Spuke on 1/29/2008 1:08:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If that's having your ducks in a row, I'd hate to see them out of line.
Being charged with a crime and being found guilty of that crime are two different things. See the O.J. trial for a reference.


RE: Uh oh
By mindless1 on 1/29/2008 1:47:47 PM , Rating: 2
Ducks in a row is fair, they are still online aren't they?!


RE: Uh oh
By SPOOOK on 1/29/2008 11:07:46 PM , Rating: 1
i played a duck game one time and every time i shot down one duck 3 more poped up the usa dont rule the world as they are trying these countrys shuld tell the us to drop dead


RE: Uh oh
By Frallan on 1/30/2008 10:30:15 AM , Rating: 2
Forced to side with Kenobi on this one.. Especially since "accessory and conspiracy" isnt legally possible to a crime that has a punishment of less then 3 yrs in jail in Sweden. Given that all IP infringmencases in Sweden has ended with a fine (and these were uploaders with files confiscated on harddisks) Id say that the Duck are in a row and Quacking along happily whereever such ducks are going.

American perspectives on Swedish law is bound to go somewhere in a handbasket same as what happens when other european phenomenon are discussed from a amerivan perspective.


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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