November 27, 2010

Appeals Court Unimpressed By Pirate Bay

A Swedish appeals court upheld the copyright convictions of three men behind The Pirate Bay, which is a popular file-sharing site that remains in operations.

The Svea Appeals Court agreed with a lower court ruling that found Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundstrom guilty of helping users to break Sweden's copyright law.

"The appeals court, like the district court, finds that the service Pirate Bay has facilitated illegal file sharing in a way which is punishable for those who carried out the service," the court said in a statement.

The appeals court reduced the founders prison sentences from one year each to between four and 10 months and raised the amount they have to pay in damages to $6.5 million.

A fourth man convicted by the lower court, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, did not appear in the appeals hearings due to an illness.

The file-sharing site has been a thorn in the side for the entertainment industry for years by helping millions of people illegally download music, movies and computers games.

The defendants have denied doing anything wrong by running the site, saying it does not actually host any copyright-protected material on its servers.

The Pirate Bay provides a forum for its users to download content through torrent files, which is a technology that allows users to transfer parts of a large file from different users.

Neij's defense lawyer, Jonas Nilsson, told The Associated Press that he was not surprised but was disappointed by the appeals court ruling and said they would probably appeal to the Supreme Court.

Swedish authorities have been unable to shut down The Pirate Bay despite being convicted.  However, Monique Wadsted, a lawyer representing entertainment companies like Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, told AP that she believes the site's days are numbered.

"My assessment is that in two years this type of piracy activity will be completely dead," she said.

The Pirate Party, a political party that grew out of a movement of people that sympathize to file sharing, criticized the court's ruling.

"This case was politically motivated from the start and (the problem) must be solved politically," Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge told reporters.

"This doesn't mean anything for The Pirate Bay and it doesn't mean anything for similar sites. File sharing is increasing every day and the only thing this means is that more and more people will try to hide what they are doing on the Internet."


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