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Pirate Bay Defendants Jailed for 33 Copyright Convictions

Pirate Bay Defendants Jailed for 33 Copyright Convictions
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Apr 17, 2009 8:30 AM PDT    Text size: 
STOCKHOLM, Sweden — The founders and two employees of file-sharing website The Pirate Bay have been sentenced to a year in jail in Sweden for breaking copyright laws.

Founders Peter Sunde and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, and two other employees Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom, were sentenced to a year in jail after being found guilty in a Swedish court of making 33 copyright-protected files accessible for illegal downloading on the website PirateBay.org. The four also were ordered to pay $3.6 million in damages to copyright holders including Warner Bros., MGM, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox Films, Sony and Universal, according to Swedish media reports.

In a Twitter posting before sentencing, Sunde said, "Nothing will happen to TPB [the Pirate Bay], this is just theatre for the media."

Sunde later described the verdict as "bizarre." He also has said they will never pay the fine and he believes the legal process will eventually go their way without the four having to spend a single day in prison.

The Pirate Bay has let an estimated 22 million users download content.

Defense lawyers had argued the defendants should be acquitted because The Pirate Bay does not host any copyright-protected material but provides a forum for its users to download content through torrent files. The court found the defendants guilty of helping users commit copyright violations "by providing a website with ... sophisticated search functions, simple download and storage capabilities, and through the tracker linked to the website."

Judge Tomas Norstrom told reporters that the court took into account that the site was "commercially driven" when it made the ruling. The defendants have denied any commercial motives behind the site.

Supporters set up a website dedicated to the trial, and the defendants sent updates from the court hearings through Twitter.

Mark Mulligan, an analyst for Forrester Research, said, “The music industry has come out of this with a ruling that is more positive for them than many had been expected." But, he warned, file sharing will continue to grow through instant messaging, email and blogs, as well as file sharing websites. He said the verdict could have implications for Google, as it provides links to illegal content.

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