[Marxism] Pirate Bay found guilty with prison sentences and millions in damages

Joonas Laine jjonas at nic.fi
Sat Apr 18 01:36:49 MDT 2009

Pirate bay guilty

Published: 17 Apr 09 15:50 CET

The four men connected with The Pirate Bay were found guilty of being 
accessories to copyright infringement by a Swedish court on Friday, 
delivering a symbolic victory in the entertainment industry’s efforts to 
put a stop to the sharing of copyrighted material on the internet.

"The Stockholm district court has today convicted the four people 
charged with promoting other people's infringement of copyright laws," 
the court said in a statement.

The four defendants in the case, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, 
Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, were each sentenced to one year in 
prison and ordered to pay 30 million kronor ($3.56 million) in damages.

The Stockholm District Court printed up 250 copies of the judgment to 
meet the expected interest from media outlets.

"By providing a website with ... well-developed search functions, easy 
uploading and storage possibilities, and with a tracker linked to the 
website, the accused have incited the crimes that the filesharers have 
committed," the court said in a statement to the media.

The court added that the four "knew that copyrighted material was being 

The one-year jail sentences were motivated by the "extensive 
accessibility of others' (copy)rights and the fact that the operation 
was conducted commercially and in an organized fashion."

In an unusual step, the court also held a press conference shortly after 
making the ruling public.

Taking questions from dozens of journalists, district court judge Tomas 
Norström explained that the 30 million kronor damages claim was to be 
paid together by all four men.

Thus, if one of the defendants doesn’t have the money to cover his 
share, one of the other men would have to pay a larger share of the claim.

Norström was also asked if the ruling meant that other websites such as 
Google, which handle bitTorrent files, are also illegal.

“We’ve looked at the conditions in this case,” answered Norström.

Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay makes it possible to skirt copyright 
fees and share music, film and computer game files using bitTorrent 
technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site.

None of the material can thus be found on The Pirate Bay server itself.

The four, who have denied any wrongdoing, are expected to appeal the 
verdict and have previously vowed to take the case as high as the 
Swedish Supreme Court if necessary.

The Pirate Bay claims to have some 22 million users worldwide.

Swedish police raided the company's offices several times and seized 
nearly 200 servers in 2006, temporarily shuttering the site. But it 
resurfaced a few days later with servers spread among different countries.

The site is still in operation.

According to public prosecutor Håkan Roswall, The Pirate Bay produced 
annual earnings of around 10 million kronor ($1.2 million).

He argued that the site was purely a business enterprise and that 
defendants should each receive prison sentences of up to one year.

Each of the four men charged in the case are connected to The Pirate Bay 
in different ways, although none claim to be the sole founder or primary 
operator of the site.

During the trial, they argued that they hadn’t earned a single krona 
from The Pirate Bay and that the site was more of a hobby. The income 
earned from advertising on the site simply covers the cost of operating 
The Pirate Bay, they claimed.

Specifically, the case dealt with alleged illegal file sharing of 20 
songs, nine films, and four computer games with the US entertainment 
industry looking to claim up to $15 million in damages from the accused.

The courtroom proceedings, which concluded in early March, featured a 
number of tense moments, memorable quotes, and legal theatrics.

On the second day of the trial, Roswall announced he was amending the 
charges by removing all mention of "complicity in the production of 
copyrighted material".

"A sensation," defence lawyer Per E. Samuelson said at the time.

"It is very rare that you win half the case after one and a half days 
and it is clear that the prosecutor has been deeply affected by what we 
said yesterday."

Later, the defence accused prosecutors and lawyers for the entertainment 
industry of “Perry Mason tactics” when they attempted to introduce new 
documents into evidence.

And when Per Sundin, the head of Universal Music in Sweden, detailed the 
losses suffered by his company in recent years, he laid the blame 
squarely on The Pirate Bay, calling the site “the biggest and baddest 
villain” in the music industry’s battle against illegal file sharing.

But it was defendant Svartholm Warg who perhaps best summed up his and 
the other defendants’ attitudes toward the entertainment industry and 
prosecutor Roswall, following the latter’s argument in his closing 
statement that The Pirate Bay was a profitable business.

“The old bastard’s crazy,” he told the TT news agency during a break in 
the proceedings.

Attorney Per E. Samuelson, who represented Carl Lundström in the case, 
suspected that the Stockholm court had been subject to “political 
pressure” in reaching its judgment.

“Power, the establishment, all point their fingers at a group of young 
rebels who have found a new technology and say that they should be 
convicted. That makes it not so easy for the district court to resist 
such political pressure,” he told the TT news agency, adding that his 
client was “shocked and upset” over the verdict.

“He’s facing a damages claim of 30 million kronor and is also supposed 
to sit in prison for a year because he provided an internet connection. 
It’s incomprehensible to him,” said Samuelson.

Samuelson added that he plans to file an appeal as soon as possible, as 
did Jonas Nilsson, the attorney for Fredrik Neij.

While Friday’s ruling is an important step in clarifying some of the 
legal issues associated with the distribution of copyrighted material in 
the digital age, it is by no means the final word.

With an expected appeal by the defendants, the case may eventually be 
heard by Sweden’s Supreme Court, with a detour through the European 
Court of Justice also a possibility, according to many experts.

Either way, it will likely be several years before a final ruling in the 
case is reached, by which time today’s bitTorrent technology may very 
well have been replaced by a new method for sharing files on the internet.

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