[JURIST] A Swedish court on Friday found four defendants guilty of abetting copyright infringement [judgment, PDF, in Swedish; press release, in Swedish] for hosting the file-sharing website The Pirate Bay [website] and sentenced them to one year in prison. The popular website is hosted by defendants Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundstrom and uses Bittorrent technology [backgrounder] to allow the distribution of files without ever actually hosting the copyrighted works on their own servers. The Stockholm district court found that the defendants intentionally and sufficiently promoted copyright infringement by being aware that the violations were taking place, providing sophisticated search functions for users, and allowing easy upload and storage of the torrent data files that facilitated the infringement. The sentence was calculated by taking into account the organization of the website, the extensive amount of copyrighted work available on it, and the commercial nature of the site. The court estimated damages at around 30 million crowns (3.56 million USD) despite much higher estimates by various copyright holders including Warner Brothers, MGM, 20th Century Fox Films, Sony BMG [corporate websites], and others. The Pirate Bay has posted complaints [text] from copyright holders and maintains that "[n]o action (except ridiculing the senders) has been taken by us because of these [complaints]." The website goes on to state defiantly that no torrents have ever been removed by request and never will be. The Pirate Bay attempted to use a European Union (EU) directive on electronic commerce [text] in their defense, claiming that they were a "mere conduit" for information passed by their users and therefore not liable. The prosecution pointed out that the directive was aimed at service providers, not private websites.
Sweden's National Museum of Science and Technology [website] is now displaying a server from The Pirate Bay [Engadget report] that was confiscated last year. Earlier this month, the Swedish Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) went into effect, resulting in a 33 percent decrease [BBC report] in Internet traffic. The law was based on similar legislation [text, PDF] passed by the EU and allows copyright holders to force internet service providers into providing information about users. Before the Swedish law was passed, copyright holders had no recourse [Wired report] in the country aside from reporting the alleged infringement to the police who were often reluctant to pursue the complaints. The French Parliament recently defeated [JURIST report] legislation that would cut off internet access for those who illegally download copyrighted material.