New York (April 17, 2009)--Founders of The Pirate Bay, arguably the most used peer-to-peer bit torrent site on the internet, were found guilty in a Swedish court Friday of illegally making copyrighted files available on the net.
The high-profile case pitted site founders Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundström against 17 media companies, including Warner Bros. Entertainment, MGM Pictures, Columbia Pictures Industries, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Sony BMG, Universal, EMI, Blizzard Entertainment, Sierra Entertainment, and Activision. As a result of Judge Tomas Norström's ruling, the four men are sentenced to jail for a year, and must also pay 30 million Swedish kronor ($3.6 million)--reportedly an "extreme" amount for a Swedish case--to the media companies. Peer to peer file sharing via technologies like Bit Torrent has financially gutted the music, film and software industries in recent years.
The Pirate Bay, which has antagonized Hollywood and the major music labels in the past with sarcastic commentary about their attempts to shut the site down, posted a response: "So, the dice courts judgment is here. It was lol to read and hear, crazy verdict. But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That's the only thing hollywood ever taught us." Unsurprisingly, the defendants have declared they will appeal the verdict, and some predict the case will eventually head to Sweden's Supreme Court.
The 13-day trial centered around the argument that the website facilitated the illegal file sharing of 33 copyrighted files, although no files are actually stored on the site. Instead, it acts as a search engine, finding torrents that are available for file sharing. It also provides a "tracker," which ensures a steady link between file sharers.
According to CNet, Twentieth Century Fox ($1.3 million), Columbia Pictures ($504,000) and Warner Bros. ($300,000) will reap the largest portions of the Pirate Bay payout.