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Frank O'Connor foconnor at ozemail.com.au
Fri Apr 17 23:44:07 AEST 2009

Swedish court jails 4 linked to file-sharing site
Pirate Bay also ordered to pay $3.6-million in damages to 
entertainment companies
Associated Press

April 17, 2009 at 6:28 AM EDT

STOCKHOLM - Four men linked to popular file-sharing site Pirate Bay 
were convicted Friday of breaking Sweden's copyright law by helping 
millions of users freely download music, movies and computer games on 
the Internet.

In a landmark ruling, the Stockholm district court sentenced Gottfrid 
Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom to one 
year each in prison.

They were also ordered to pay damages of 30 million kronor 
($3.6-million U.S.) to a series of entertainment companies, including 
Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI and Columbia Pictures.

Pirate Bay provides a forum for its estimated 22 million users to 
download content through so-called torrent files. The site has become 
the entertainment industry's enemy No. 1 after successful court 
actions against file-swapping sites such as Grokster and Kazaa.

Media scramble to get a copy of the Pirate Bay trial verdict at the 
courthouse Stockholm. A Swedish court handed down a guilty verdict 
and a year in prison on Friday to all four founders of music sharing 
service Pirate Bay. (Reuters)
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Mr. Lundstrom helped finance the site while the three other 
defendants administered it.

Defence lawyers had argued the quartet should be acquitted because 
Pirate Bay doesn't host any copyright-protected material. Instead, it 
provides a forum for its users to download content through so-called 
torrent files. The technology allows users to transfer parts of a 
large file from several different users, increasing download speeds.

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.

John Kennedy, the head of the International Federation of the 
Phonographic Industry, called the verdict "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 be 
protected by law."

The defendants said before the verdict that they would appeal if they 
were found guilty.

"Stay calm - Nothing will happen to TPB, us personally or file 
sharing whatsoever. This is just a theater for the media," Mr. Sunde 
said Friday in a posting on social networking site Twitter.

The court hearings, which ended March 3, renewed debate about 
file-sharing in Sweden, where many defend the right to swap songs and 
movies freely on the Internet. Critics say that Swedish authorities 
caved in to pressure from the U.S. when they launched the crackdown 
on Pirate Bay in 2006.

Pirate Bay's supporters mobilized for the trial, waving black 
skull-and-crossbones flags outside the court and setting up a website 
dedicated to the proceedings. The defendants sent updates from the 
court hearings through social network Twitter.

The verdict comes as Europe debates stricter rules to crack down on 
those who share content illegally on the Internet.

Last week French legislators rejected a plan to cut off the Internet 
connections of people who illegally download music and films, but the 
government plans to resurrect the bill for another vote this month.

Opponents said the legislation would represent a Big Brother 
intrusion on civil liberties, while the European Parliament last 
month adopted a nonbinding resolution that defines Internet access as 
an untouchable "fundamental freedom."

Sweden earlier this month introduced a new law that makes it easier 
to prosecute file-sharers because it requires Internet Service 
Providers to disclose the Internet Protocol-addresses of suspected 
violators to copyright owners.

Critics said the new law could harm Sweden's reputation as a spawning 
ground for Internet technology. The country of nine million has one 
of Europe's highest rates of Internet penetration, but has also 
gained a reputation as a hub for file-sharers.

Statistics from the Netnod Internet Exchange, an organization 
measuring Internet traffic in Sweden, suggested that daily online 
activity dropped more than 40 per cent after the law took effect on 
April 1.

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