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Quartet Behind The Pirate Bay Go on Trial in Sweden

Quartet Behind The Pirate Bay Go on Trial in Sweden
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Feb 17, 2009 9:00 AM PST    Text size: 
STOCKHOLM — It's day two of The Pirate Bay trial, and the four men behind the torrent-tracking website are already winning.

The prosecuting attorney in the trial has dropped half of the charges against the four defendants, Carl Lundström, Peter Sunde, Frederik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg. The charges originally held the four responsible for "complicity in the production of copyrighted material."

Prosecutor Håkan Roswall has altered those charges to simply read "complicity to make (copyrighted material) available."

The four men behind the popular torrent file search engine The Pirate Bay are on trial in Sweden, accused of helping millions of users download all kinds of illegal content.

The defendants are looking at up to two years in prison and about $140,000 in fines (1.2 million kronor) if convicted.

The Pirate Bay has long been at or near the center of the content piracy debate because of its high-profile disregard for regulations governing piracy in different countries, as well as its burgeoning user base. Over the last year, the site's membership has jumped from 6 million to more than 20 million.

Despite the lawsuit, though, the men behind The Pirate Bay remain confident.

"What are they going to do about it?" Warg said on a recent webcast. "They have already failed to take down the site once. Let them fail again. It has its own life without us."

He's right. The Pirate Bay may be the big daddy of these sites, but hundreds of other sites that mimic Pirate Bay's functionality pop up all the time. A tech blogger known as Ernesto, who writes for TorrentFreak.com, passed on The Pirate Bay's orders to its troops.

"The Pirate Bay encourages others to start their own tracker," he said. "The more heads the Hydra has, the better."

John Kennedy, chairman of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, predicted the demise of The Pirate Bay, while simultaneously lambasting the site's creators for hurting artists.

"The criminal prosecution of The Pirate Bay is about protecting creators from those who violate their rights and deprive them of their deserved rewards," he said. "The Pirate Bay has hurt creators of many different kinds of works, from music to film, from books to TV programs. It has been particularly harmful in distributing copyrighted works prior to their official release. This damages sales of music at the most important time of their lifecycle."

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