February 17, 2009

Copyright Test Trial Starts In Sweden

Music and film companies are hoping to recoup millions of dollars in lost revenues if they get their way in a copyright test case in Stockholm involving one of the world's biggest free file-sharing websites.

Last year, four men linked to The Pirate Bay were charged by a Swedish prosecutor with conspiracy to break copyright law and related offenses.

Companies including Warner Bros., MGM, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox Films, Sony BMG, Universal, and EMI are also asking for damages of more than $12 million to cover lost revenues.

The trial has gained worldwide attention, as businesses wait to see what extent the entertainment industry can protect copyright against Internet users.

The accused are Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundstrom; they all denied the charges. The four accused face up to two years in jail if convicted.

Websites like The Pirate Bay, launched in 2003, allow users to download songs, movies, and computer games without paying a fee.

"This is not a political trial, it's not about shutting down a people's library and it's not a trial that wants to prohibit file sharing as a technique," said Monique Wadsted, a lawyer representing Warner Brothers, Columbia, MGM and other major media and computer games companies.

"It's a trial regarding four individuals that have conducted a big commercial business making money out of others file sharing ... copyright protected works."

The group that controls The Pirate Bay claims no copyrighted material is stored on its servers. Therefore they contend no exchange of files takes place there, so they cannot be held responsible for what is exchanged. The site is still up and running.

The prosecution says the group is guilty by financing, programming, and administering the site.

Attorneys also claim the four men promoted the infringement of property rights by the site's users.

The trial could last as long as three weeks. 


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