The Pirate Bay four found guilty in Sweden
Operators of BitTorrent site sentenced to one year in prison, hit with $3.6 million in fines
IDG News Service - The four people involved in running The Pirate Bay, one of the most widely used BitTorrent trackers for music, movies and software, were found guilty today in a Stockholm court of being accessories to crimes against copyright law.
The four — Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström — were each sentenced to one year in prison, as the prosecution had asked. The court also ordered them to pay a total of about 30 million Swedish kronor ($3.6 million U.S.) in damages, although that was less than the 117 million kronor that movie, music and gaming companies had asked for.
Most experts had predicted a guilty verdict but also that the punishment wouldn't be as harsh as the prosecution was seeking. In addition, the verdict isn't expected to affect The Pirate Bay site, which has been moved abroad.
The four defendants are jointly liable for paying the damages, which, for example, include about 11 million Swedish kronor to Twentieth Century Fox, according to the verdict.
"I'm not that surprised . . . the actual jail time was a bit surprising," Sunde, The Pirate Bay's spokesman, said in a press conference broadcast on Bambuser, a Web site that lets users stream live video from mobile phones and other devices.
Sunde added that he and the other defendants aren't going to pay the damages assessed by the court. During the press conference, he went off camera and came back with a sheet of paper that read "I OWE U 31,000,000 SEK." That's as close as law enforcement authorities are going to get to collecting the fines, he claimed.
"Even if I had money, I would rather burn everything I own and not even give them the final dust from the burning," Sunde said.
Representatives of movie and music companies in Sweden were pleased by the verdict.
It spells the beginning of the end for The Pirate Bay, according to Jonas Sjöström, chairman of the Swedish Independent Music Producers trade group. He added that sites such as The Pirate Bay typify an old operating model that is quickly losing its attraction and being replaced by legitimate services such as Spotify, a site that streams music.
The case is now expected to move to Sweden's high court. Both sides have three weeks to file a written appeal of the district court's decision.
The verdict has been a long time coming. Swedish police raided the company that hosted The Pirate Bay servers in May 2006; charges were then filed in January 2008. The trial ended on March 3, after some of the original charges were dropped.
The people behind The Pirate Bay haven't exactly kept a low profile since the trial ended. Late last month, for instance, they added a new feature to the Web site that let Facebook users share torrents, although Facebook Inc. blocked the links to The Pirate Bay two weeks later.
In addition, the group recently launched IPREDator, a network service designed to make online users more anonymous via a virtual private network. IPREDator promises to protect users from prying eyes on the Internet, and no data or logs will be saved, according to the service's Web site.
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