Pirate Bay Founders Get Jail Sentence
A Swedish court has found four men behind the BitTorrent tracker the Pirate Bay guilty of assisting in making copyrighted material available and sentenced each of them to a year in jail. They were also ordered to pay damages of 30 million kronor ($3.54 million) to the film and music industries by Stockholm district court.
The Swedish and international music industry has welcomed today’s (April 17) verdict against Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde. The Pirate Bay is the most notorious site used for searching P2P downloads of music and films, claiming 22 million users in February.
The court found the defendants guilty of making 33 specific files accessible for illegal P2P file-sharing. It ordered that damages must be paid to companies including all the majors and film studios MGM and 20th Century Fox.
“The trial of the operators of the Pirate Bay was about defending the rights of creators, confirming the illegality of the service and creating a fair environment for legal music services that respect the rights of the creative community,” said IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy in a statement. “Today’s verdict is the right outcome on all three counts. The court has also handed down a strong deterrent sentence that reflects the seriousness of the crimes committed. 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.”
Helen Smith, executive chair of independent labels body IMPALA, added: “This is music to the ears of the thousands of small independents and artists who produce the majority of new releases today. It demonstrates a real understanding of the dilemma that if no one pays for music today who will make the exciting new music of tomorrow?”
“This may be the verdict of a Swedish court, but it is a great outcome for British music,” said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of U.K. trade body the BPI. “Criminal sites like Pirate Bay seriously undermine investment in music and in legal online services and do nothing to reward artists or creators. We hope that this decision will encourage British music fans to steer clear of these parasitic illegal download services and support the future of British music by downloading legally.”
However, in a statement on its Web site, the Pirate Bay made clear it will appeal the ruling. “It will not be the final decision,” said the statement. “It will have no real effect on anything besides setting the tone for the debate.”
In a Twitter posting, Sunde claimed that “nothing will happen to TPB, this is just theater for the media.”
“It used to be only movies, now even verdicts are out before the official release,” he added, claiming that he received a leak of the verdict last night.
Sunde took part in an online press conference at 1pm CET, so it appears the defendants’ prison sentence is pending their appeal. They all denied the charges on the basis that the Pirate Bay did not actually host copyrighted content.
Carl Lundstrom’s attorney Per Samuelson said 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.”
Swedish Web site the Local reports that public prosecutor Håkan Roswall stated that the Pirate Bay produced annual earnings of around 10 million kronor ($1.2 million) from advertising on the site.