The Stockholm District Court in Sweden has found the four men behind the infamous Swedish BitTorrent tracking site The Pirate Bay guilty of assisting copyright infringement. Each has been sentenced to one year in jail. Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and millionaire donor Carl Lundström must pay SEK 30 million (£2.41 million) in damages. After the three week trial in Mark the court ruled (17th April) that the four were responsible for “promoting other people’s infringements of copyright laws”. The defendants have said they will appeal to Sweden’s Supreme Court and possibly onwards to the European Courts. The international music industry welcomed the judgment and IFPI Chairman and CEO, John Kennedy, said “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. 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.” Ludvig Werner, Chairman of IFPI Sweden, added “The court has delivered a simple and clear judgement, which is that people and businesses engaged in creative activities have the fundamental right to be rewarded for their work and to be protected from massive copyright violators like Pirate Bay. The criminal conviction of the Pirate Bay operators will not only hearten the music and film community – it is also a huge shot in the arm for legitimate producers and entrepreneurs, who are trying to create a thriving legitimate online business based on proper respect of copyright. The court has also understood that a criminal conviction in itself is not enough, and that if creators’ rights are going to properly protected, a deterrent sentence was needed reflecting the seriousness of the crime” and Jonas Sjöström, Chairman of SOM (Svenska Obereoende Musikproducenter/Swedish Independent Music Producers Association),said: “This a great verdict for Sweden’s independent music labels which are trying to build their business by licensing legitimate services and getting it to fans in the way they want. The Pirate Bay has no place in this legitimate business and the court has made that clear. They had no respect for creators or artists or the labels who invest in them. This was the right verdict and the whole creative should be happy with the outcome”. Subsequent to the decision Swedish TV broke the news that one grounds for appealed might be the alleged boas of trial judge Tomas Norstrum on the grounds that he is pro-copyright – he is a member of the Swedish Copyright Association and Swedish Association For The Protection Of Industrial Property and had a clear conflict of interest. A judge involved in the case in a lower court had to withdraw after it was discovered his association with a music rights group. However whether or not an appeal is successful, Torrentfreak.com reports that at least four BitTorrent trackers have stopped tracking torrent files in Sweden this week, including Nordicbits.org, Piratebits.org, Wolfbits.org and Powerbits.org. The former confirmed The Pirate Bay ruling was behind their decision to close, explaining to former users that they don’t have the resources to adjust their system in order to reduce their potential liability for similar copyright infringement charges to be made against them (and anyway, if they restricted the use of their service so to block unlicenced content, no one would probably use it anymore).
See www.ifpi.org and see here for a ‘response’ linked to by The Pirate Bay website this morning (online atbambuser.com/channel/Spectrial/broadcast/114322), see Music Law Updates March 2009 OINK uploaders receive low level community sentences in the UK as the Pirates go to court and see:http://ipfinance.blogspot.com/2009/04/after-pirate-bay-what-happens-next.html