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Content industry finds its case in dire straits

In an attempt to refine its criminal case against The Pirate Bay, prosecutors once again altered the charges placed against Pirate Bay figureheads Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström.

Swedish newspaper The Local reports that the prosecution made two adjustments:

  • Completely dropping a sentence that read, “All components are necessary for users of the service are able to share files with one another.”
  • Changing “upload” to “upload and store” in the sentence “provide the ability to others to upload torrent files to the service.”

In an interview with Wired, Stockholm University legal scholar Daniel Westman said the ‘all components’ line likely placed extra difficulty in proving the prosecution’s claims, as it may feel “uncertain” it can show that “all components” of the site – its search engine, its tracker, and its torrent database – are necessary to commit infringement.

“The question is whether the defendants fulfill the requirements in the penal code for complicity in a crime,” said Westman. “One could maybe argue that the degree of complicity were higher if all three components could be proven, but the court may as well decide that only one or two is enough.”

Tuesday also saw the first round of testimony from the plaintiffs, with International Federation of Phonographic Industries lawyer Magnus Mårtensson taking the stand.

Mårtensson testified that he successfully searched for, downloaded, and listened to a copy of the album “Intensive Care” by British pop rock star Robbie Williams. He then presented screenshots documenting the download process.

In the defense’s cross-examination, however, Mårtensson later admitted that part of his testimony was based on assumptions, on account of his lack of expertise in file-sharing; when asked whether his was sure his BitTorrent client used The Pirate Bay’s tracker, he replied, “I just assumed it.”

Defense attorney Per E. Samuelson pressed further, asking Mårtensson to confirm exactly what his BitTorrent client was doing. “I can’t answer that,” replied Mårtensson.

When asked whether he knew he could also download .torrent files on Google, Mårtensson’s answer was the same.

“I’ve never done it using Google. I can’t answer that,” he said.

Immediately following Mårtensson’s testimony came a similar, though far more solid, briefing from ex-police officer Anders Nilsson, who now works to the anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån.

The media industry appears to find itself on increasingly shaky ground – an authors community on Facebook, asked for a few choice quips for prosecution to use in its closing arguments, recently observed that “the whole situation is dominated by the pirates.”

Humorously, the author who posted that comment – Carina Rydberg – had previously and begrudgingly praised The Pirate Bay, in the same Facebook group, for helping her track down books and movies that she could not find otherwise.

“The Pirate Bay is an invaluable source for content that publishers, record labels and movie studios for some reason can't or won't offer,” she wrote. “If someone on The Pirate Bay chose to download the book I wrote in 1989 I would have no objection to that. That novel is practically impossible to get hold of and as an author I want to be read.”

The hybrid civil/criminal trial against The Pirate Bay kicked off last week to a packed courtroom, and is expected to conclude by the end of the week.

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By omnicronx on 2/25/2009 11:55:22 AM , Rating: 1
IMO the above comments are akin to someone saying we shouldn't charge a getaway driver with the crime because they didn't actually go into the bank to get the money, they just sat outside and helped the real criminal(s) escape.
Aside from this, I would have to agree. (in this case being a party to the crime of armed robbery would be the charge)
Do any of you seriously think TPB was created to distribute legal works? Their name states quite clearly that the creators knew what their service was for.
Can't say others agree with this, as I got flamed in the previous article on the subject when I said the same thing.
Personally, I think that there is much blame on both sides of the fight (with corporations and TPB).
Thank you, best comment I have read all day.. I don't feel sorry for either sides here, both are in the wrong.

By L33tMasta on 2/25/2009 1:34:19 PM , Rating: 2
I swear omnicronx works for the MPAA. Just look at how he defends them and how he's all for them taking our freedoms away.

By omnicronx on 2/25/2009 2:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
I swear omnicronx works for the MPAA.
Its true, you got me.. I can't believe my cover lasted this long.
Just look at how he defends them and how he's all for them taking our freedoms away.
Ok I concede, what was I thinking? I mean what on earth compelled me to believe pirating IP was not a right.

By tastyratz on 2/26/2009 9:36:22 AM , Rating: 2
I think it would be more akin to a taxi driver carting people all over town. The **AA wants the driver to run a background check on every passenger to see if they are fugatives, and the taxi just wants to drive people and not dedicate his resources into something that's not his job... While letting the police hunt and track fugitives.

A getaway driver is not escorting an girl to see her grandmother (legal content) they are knowingly and purposely engaging in illegal activities ONLY. This would be a good comparison if there was no legal content at ALL, and they sorted the site discarding anything that looked legal.

In reality, tpb doesn't really look at anything. This makes them more like Google to be honest.

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