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Author Topic: Swedish authorities force Pirates to walk the plank  (Read 385 times)
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« on: April 18, 2009, 06:37:25 PM »

4 convicted in Pirate Bay file-sharing trial
By Karl Ritter, Associated Press Writer
  Fri Apr 17, 5:36 am ET



STOCKHOLM Four men linked to popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay were convicted Friday of breaking Sweden's copyright law by helping millions of users freely download music, movies and computer games on the Internet.

The Stockholm district court sentenced Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom to one year each in prison.

They were also ordered to pay damages of 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) to a series of entertainment companies, including Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI and Columbia Pictures.

The Pirate Bay provides a forum for its estimated 22 million users to download content through so-called torrent files. The site has become the entertainment industry's enemy No. 1 after successful court actions against file-swapping sites such as Grokster and Kazaa.

Defense lawyers had argued the quartet should be acquitted because The Pirate Bay doesn't host any copyright-protected material. Instead, it provides a forum for its users to download content through so-called torrent files. The technology allows users to transfer parts of a large file from several different users, increasing download speeds.

The court found the defendants guilty of helping users commit copyright violations "by providing a Web site with ... sophisticated search functions, simple download and storage capabilities, and through the tracker linked to the Web site."

The court hearings, which ended March 3, renewed debate about file-sharing in Sweden, where many defend the right to swap songs and movies freely on the Internet. Critics say that Swedish authorities caved in to pressure from the U.S. when they launched the crackdown on The Pirate Bay in 2006.

The Pirate Bay's supporters set up a Web site dedicated to the trial, and the defendants sent updates from the court hearings through social network Twitter.

The defendants said before the verdict that they would appeal if they were found guilty.
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2009, 06:38:30 PM »

Pirate Bay's fileshare four get year in jail



STOCKHOLM (Reuters) Four men behind The Pirate Bay, one of the world's biggest free file-sharing websites, were each sentenced to a year in jail on Friday for breaching copyright, and ordered to pay $3.6 million in compensation.

Analysts said the guilty verdict in the closely-watched test case could help music and film companies recoup millions of dollars in lost revenues, though they doubted it would stem the tide of illegal downloading.

In a broadcast on The Pirate Bay's website one of the four defendants, Peter Sunde, taunted the court, holding up a mock IOU note for 31 million Swedish crowns ($3.6 million) followed by the initials "JK" -- Internet lingo for "just kidding."

"That's the closest they're going to get to getting money from me," Sunde said.

International trade body IFPI, which represents some 1,400 record companies across the world, reported earlier this year that about 95 percent of music downloaded in 2008 was illegal.

On its website, The Pirate Bay scorned the ruling, calling it a "crazy verdict."

"It was lol (laugh out loud) to read and hear," the message read. "But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That's the only thing Hollywood has ever taught us."

IFPI Chairman John Kennedy welcomed the court sentence which he said in a statement provided a "a strong deterrent" against copyright infringement.

"This is good news for everyone, in Sweden and internationally, who is making a living or a business from creative activity and who needs to know their rights will protected by law," he said.

The men linked to The Pirate Bay -- Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom -- were charged early last year by a Swedish prosecutor with conspiracy to break copyright law and related offences. They denied the charges.

Companies including Warner Bros., MGM, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox Films, Sony BMG, Universal and EMI also sought damages of more than 100 million crowns ($12 million) to cover lost revenues.

The Stockholm district court said in a statement the four were found guilty of breaching copyright laws and each sentenced to a year in prison.

APPEAL

Lundstrom's attorney, Per Samuelson, told journalists he was shocked by the verdict and the severity of the sentence.

"That's outrageous, in my point of view. Of course we will appeal," he said. "This is the first word, not the last. The last word will be ours."

The lawyers defending Sunde and Neij told Reuters their clients would also appeal the verdict.

The group that controls The Pirate Bay, launched in 2003, says that no copyrighted material is stored on its servers and no exchange of files actually takes place there so it cannot be held responsible for what material is being exchanged.

The prosecution said that by financing, programing and administering the site, the four men promoted the infringement of property rights by the site's users.

Industry experts were not convinced the verdict would have a lasting effect.

"Every time you get rid of one, another bigger one pops up. Napster went, and then up came a whole host of others ... The problem of file-sharing just keeps growing year on year, and it's increasingly difficult for the industry to do anything about it," said music analyst Mark Mulligan of research firm Forrester.

Dan Cryan, senior analyst at media research firm Screen Digest, said the lack of international copyright law meant websites dedicated to illegal downloads could simply move on to a new country if legislation tightened where they operated.

"Pirate Bay was brilliant at self-publicity, but the reality is there are lots of other torrent-tracker sites," he said.

"The closing of the one that shouts the loudest won't make any difference."

(Additional reporting by Simon Johnson in Stockholm and Georgina Prodhan in London; Writing by Niklas Pollard, editing by David Cowell, John Stonestreet)

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