updated 11:30 am EST, Thu January 31, 2008
Pirate Bay Charged
Well-known pirated material site The Pirate Bay has been charged with its first clear copyright infringement case, according to reports. A combination of major movie labels and music studios, including EMI, Fox, Sony BMG, and Universal, accuse the Swedish-run site of profiting from linking to BitTorrents from pages with advertising; as much as $4 million US a year is generated through normal traffic, according to the Swedish prosecutor in the case, Hakan Roswall. Labels involved with the suit are demanding as much as a $188,000 fine for each of the four principal site operators and that computers they own be confiscated.
The investigation is said to be the result of a raid by Swedish police in May 2006, which collected information about The Pirate Bay's activities but drew attention through its motivating factors. Critics of major media companies as well as Pirate Bay supporters have accused the Swedish government of bending to requests from the British- and US-based media producers regardless of actual regulations.
The Pirate Bay has so far said it has no reason to fear the results of any court action and believes it will escape any punishment based on Swedish law. "[The plaintiffs] want to try to criminalize something we already know is legal," says site co-founder Peter Sunde.
A defeat is not expected to shut the site down; since the 2006 raid, the site has increasingly distributed its servers and other facilities to countries where few if any laws exist to shut down such content, preventing labels from issuing simple takedown requests or requesting help from local police.