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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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RE: Moore's Law and Piracy
By Belard on 11/29/2010 2:50:30 PM , Rating: 1
Most people who pirate are just that.

Come on, go to a REDBOX pay $1 to rent the movie and be done with it.

DVDs are about $15 new, $10 in 6 months. Many at wallmart are under $10 (over a year old). Whole box sets go for $20 or less. Buy them used.

I'm not against file-sharing, it has its uses. But really? A person can spend $1000+ on the computer, all the drives, 56" LCD screen etc... but a $10 DVD or $15 blu-ray disc is going to break them?

And yes, the RIAA / MPAA both suck balls and they hurt artist more than help. Anyone with half a brain knew that this wouldn't stop Pirate Bay or anyone else. What about servers in China, etc?

RE: Moore's Law and Piracy
By walk2k on 11/29/2010 3:33:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah and Netflix ix $9/mo for 2 DVDs and unlimited streaming.. if you watch 2 movies a day (or equiv. TV episodes/etc) that's 15 cents each... This stuff is NOT expensive, some people just like to steal things. A lot of them are just hoarders, probably never even watch half the stuff they DL.

RE: Moore's Law and Piracy
By Reclaimer77 on 11/29/2010 3:47:11 PM , Rating: 4
It's not theft. I'm really tired of this mentality, criminalizing the other side. Come on, that's just cheap.

It's called IP Infringement. Nobody has ever been accused of or tried on a theft charge when it comes to digital rights. It's not like walking into a store and snagging DVD's, not even close.

Intellectual Property is a bunch of made up money grubbing bullcrap that most people don't understand in the first place, so no wonder file sharing isn't considered a "big deal".

RE: Moore's Law and Piracy
By eagleon on 11/29/2010 11:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
Say you were a furniture maker. A rich one. Everyone wants and loves furniture, and everyone loves you for providing it. You are creative, your craftsmanship is excellent, and your contributions to the art are heralded in bold in Rolling Stool Magazine.

Now say that one day, someone makes a machine to make your furniture in quantities no one could possibly need, for free. Ridiculous amounts of well-crafted chairs, tables, toilets, couches, and recliners, everywhere, in every home, at minimal cost. There's nothing you can do to stop people from picking it up and using it. You can try to complain to the law that your designs are being copied, but the machine is so prolific that the amount you claim is being stolen exceeds the GPD of your home nation ten-thousandfold or more. In a word, you're screwed. So is every furniture maker you know, and so are their families and pets.

Now, at this point, does it really make sense for someone making minimum wage to throw out their recliner? Or, for that matter, for law enforcement to waste their time on fruitless witchhunts for chair-pirates? By this point, fighting the chair-virus is just flailing against a tidal wave. It's sad that people are being hurt by it, but it's ridiculous to think that everyone will just go back to the way things were. Everyone likes having extra money. Not everyone considers a couch a vital necessity, like water, and a lot of people seriously have more important things to spend their money on, like kids and bills. So no one will buy a couch if one is available for free.

This is internet piracy. If you can figure out how to stop it in a sensible, sane manner, a lot of people will consider you a genius. But you won't. It's impossible without destroying the internet. Music and film will survive this, though - people don't always make art for money, you know? The best music has always come from the most passionate - I see this as thinning the stock so that they can shine through all the better.

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