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Supersite’s infamous owners accused of accessory to copyright infringement

Piracy supersite 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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goin nowhere fast in Sweden
By wetwareinterface on 1/29/2008 8:29:46 PM , Rating: 2
This is another weak attempt by the prosecuters in Sweden to put up a show of force. The sad fact is torrent hosting at this time in Sweden is not illegal. The Swedish law enforcement people tried this in the raid in 2006 and ended up having to eat crow.

The law in Sweden right now is that posting information on where to get copyright infringing material in itself is not illegal nor infringing copyright. As long as that is still in place the pirate bay will be safe. If that law changes and they still operate then they have to worry. As far as the whole is a torrent file a link to material or material itself was already tried, and the courts sided with the thought that it is a "link to" not an actual infringment in itself in Sweden.

So unless Sweden doesn't have a double jeopardy law the previous ruling will be upheld and this will go nowhere.

RE: goin nowhere fast in Sweden
By Frallan on 1/30/2008 10:22:31 AM , Rating: 2
Well acctually they are beeing charged with aiding and abetting illegal downloading. Thing is that in Sweden aiding and abetting isn't concidered possible if the crime doesnt give minimum 3 years in jail. So since all cases in Seden have given monetary punishment only it is likely to go nowhere - but given the huge amount of hybris these guys have built up it might swing against em as well.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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