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Fredrik Neij (right) and Peter Sunde (center) fought the law, but the law won. The pair have been sentenced to prison time by a Swedish appeals court for their role in creating the immensely popular site, The Pirate Bay.  (Source: Reuters)

The Pirate Bay remains one of the world's top torrent sites and is as active as ever, despite the media prosecutors' efforts.
To the brig, with ya, matie!

The bid by administrators of the world's largest torrent site, The Pirate Bay, to escape time in Swedish prison is at an end.  An appeals court delivered a new ruling that is seen as largely unfavorable for the group and guarantees that they will serve prison time, if they stay in Sweden.

The ruling comes after nearly two years of legal conflict, which began when prosecutors filed charges against Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, and Peter Sunde, who ran the site; and Carl Lundström, a Swedish businessman who through his businesses sold services to the site.  The men were charged with promoting massive copyright infringement and crime, much as their site's name might suggest.

At the trial the group put up a spirited defense, but eventually were defeated in a court ruling.  The results were unsurprising, given information that would later come to light.  The presiding judge in the case was a former member of a copyright protection organization and reportedly receiving compensation in the past from media organizations.

With the judge firmly in their pocket, the plaintiffs -- Swedish subsidiaries of leading music and film companies, including Sony BMG, Universal Music, EMI and Warner Brothers; and international copyright attack-dog the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) (the parent of America's RIAA) -- secured a guilty verdict.  The accused were sentenced to a year in prison each and ordered to repay 32 million crowns ($4.57M USD).

The Pirate Bay leaders scoffed at the charges, saying that even considering the net value of their servers, that they had nowhere near the amount demanded.  They quick appealed, on the grounds that the judge in the case had an inappropriate conflict of interest.

A Swedish Court of Appeals finally reached a ruling last Friday and delivered a relatively harsh final sentence against The Pirate Bay creators.  It stated, "The appeals court, like the district court, finds that the service Pirate Bay has facilitated illegal file sharing in a way which is punishable for those who carried out the service."

The sentences of two of the admins and the site's financier were all reduced.  Fredrik Neij's prison time was cut to 10 months, Peter Sunde's to 8 months, and Carl Lundstrom's was cut to four months.  However, their fines were raised even higher to 46 million crowns ($6.57M USD).  Like the recent verdict against U.S. citizen Jammie Thomas-Rassert, that punitive judgment virtually ensures that the accused will live in poverty for much of the remainder of their lives, if they remain within the nation (the exception being Lundstrom, who has substantial wealth).

The IFPI's battle against The Pirate Bay in Sweden closely mirrors its battle (via the RIAA) against Limewire in the U.S.  In October a U.S. court ordered Limewire be permanently taken offline.

If there's a bit of good news for supporters of The Pirate Bay, it's that the verdict has seemingly done little to achieve the prosecutors' goal of damaging the site.  The site is still online and is as active as ever.  It is now registered in the Seychelles, an island nation known for its lose copyright laws.  And rather than a small set of individuals, which could be prosecuted, the site is now run by a larger organization.

The leadership of Europe's Pirate Party, which supports loosening copyright laws, mocked the verdict.  Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge while implying court corruption said that the ruling would do little to stop piracy.  He states, "This case was politically motivated from the start and (the problem) must be solved politically.  This doesn't mean anything for The Pirate Bay and it doesn't mean anything for similar sites. File sharing is increasing every day and the only thing this means is that more and more people will try to hide what they are doing on the Internet."

And recent data on piracy worldwide indicates that he's right.

In short, big media may get to chuckle at the misfortune of the piracy ringleaders who will soon be in the brig, but at the end of the day it's the millions of pirates worldwide who are enjoying the last laugh.


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Even if you agree with the verdict,
By room200 on 11/29/2010 11:26:30 AM , Rating: 4
It's pretty obvious that the judge had no business presiding over this case. Though they might have been found guilty anyway, there's no way this judge was not going to throw the book at them.




RE: Even if you agree with the verdict,
By Spivonious on 11/29/2010 11:29:56 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
The presiding judge in the case was a former member of a copyright protection organization and reportedly receiving compensation in the past from media organizations.


That alone would mean an instant mistrial in the U.S.. What are Sweden's laws like concerning this? And is this their final appeal, or can they take it to a higher court?


By room200 on 11/29/2010 1:41:33 PM , Rating: 2
They have one more appeal before the Supreme Court of Sweden.


By farquaid on 11/29/2010 2:17:06 PM , Rating: 2
I know the judge in the first trial was as you describe, very much involved in the industries fight against piracy. I didnt know this judge was as well.
If that kind of involvement doesnt make you biased i dont know what would.
The first trial should have been a mistrial in my opinion.
It seams we lack skilled judges in the area and the only ones who know anything about it are actually working with the industry. Most judges are of the older generation and probably dont understand torrents and downloading or internet in general.

On the question if they can appeal to a higher court the anser is yes, there is one higher.


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