The four co-founders of Sweden’s file-sharing website Pirate Bay: http://thepiratebay.org found guilty.
April 2009 might turn out to be the cruelest month for those who like their movies, music and games free of charge. On Friday, two weeks after Sweden imposed a new law banning online piracy, the four founders of Swedish file-sharing Web site The Pirate Bay were found guilty of breaching copyright and sentenced to a year in jail.
The Swedish court also asked the four, whose average age is 34, to pay 31 million Swedish kronor ($3.7 million) in compensation to copyright holders, which was still some way off the $16.0 million in total sought by companies including Vivendi, Time Warner and Sony. But trade association IFPI, or the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, claimed the decision was a big victory for the media industry, which has been bedeviled by the wealth of files shared free of charge on sites such as The Pirate Bay.
“You’ve got a very clear ruling that says: The Pirate Bay is illegal in Sweden,” said a spokesman for the IFPI on Friday. Although he admitted that the ruling did not mean the Web site would be shut down, and that the defendants’ decision to appeal meant that the verdict was not yet final, he said that it was a big deterrent against other Web sites and a springboard for other legal steps that could be taken.
Not everyone saw it that way. IHS Global Insight analyst Peter Boyland countered that there would be no decisive victory against file-sharing sites until media companies offered a viable alternative of their own. “If The Pirate Bay is shut down, it is merely one among hundreds, with many more queuing up to take its place,” he told Forbes. “The Internet has made file-sharing virtually impossible to prevent — but most users have indicated they are more than happy to pay a reasonable price for access to legal music-sharing sites”
As for the buccaneers behind The Pirate Bay, they remained defiant as they prepared to appeal on Friday. Co-founder Peter Sunde held a relaxed press conference live on the Web site, slamming the ruling as “bizarre” and “not a fair judgment.”