Day #1 of The Pirate Bay ‘Spectrial’ in Sweden

Much anticipated case against the BitTorrent tracker site’s founders for copyright infringement has begun.

The four founders of The Pirate Bay, Hans Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström have headed to a Swedish court to fight charges of accessory and conspiracy to break Swedish copyright law in a landmark case that the entire BitTorrent community is watching very closely. If convicted, they could face up to two years in prison.

In a pre-trail press conference held yesterday, the four remained defiant and stressed they’ve done nothing wrong:

What would a conviction in many instances could lead to for The Pirate Bay?

Nothing. They have failed to take down the site sooner, “says Gottfrid Svartholm Warg.

“It is not the site that will face prosecution, it has its own life without us,” said Peter Sunde.

Are you frightened by the charges?

“No, we are not,” said Sunde. “There is no basis for the requirements. And it does not matter if they require several million or one billion. We are not rich and have no money to pay.”

“I already have more debt in Sweden than I will ever be able to pay off,” said Warg. ” And I do not even live here. They are welcome to send a bill. I will frame it and put it on the wall.”

Why is it okay to download music, movies and games without paying for itself?

“It is an uninteresting question,” said Sunde. “This means that you can do something and then the money will just roll up. Now, something happened that allows companies to take money from the artists must begin to share with.

How will the site look like in five years?

“I do not think that the Pirate Bay will be a major player in five years,” said Sunde. ” But I think BitTorrent technology will improve. File sharing will always exist. I think people will tire of the debate.”

The entertainment industry is obviously eager for a successful prosecution against the The Pirate Bay and have already expressed their hopes for a conviction.

“The operators of The Pirate Bay have exploited the creative efforts of others for years by enabling the illegal distribution of audio-visual and other creative works on a vast scale while making a profit for themselves,” says the MPAA in a press release. “It is important that the people responsible for operating The Pirate Bay are dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement authorities in Sweden. The MPA is doing everything possible to support the prosecution and it is now a matter for the Swedish court to decide. We remain committed to our core mission of encouraging and pursuing common sense solutions that support the creativity and prosperity of the film industry.”

The IFPI, for its part, insists that the The Pirate Bay has always been more about making money than spreading knowledge and culture for free.

“The evidence in this case will show that The Pirate Bay is a commercial business which made substantial amounts of money for its operators despite their claim to be only interested in spreading culture for free,” it says.

“This is a huge and important copyright trial, but it’s not a political trial, as has been claimed,” attorney Peter Danowsky, who represents the recording and film industry, said to the TT news agency on his way into the courtroom.

Today concluded day #1 of the trial against The Pirate Bay, which is scheduled to last 3 weeks, and here are some of the highlights:

Prosecutor: The Pirate Bay has had income over 1.2 million SEK ($143,936 USD).

Defense: No “main” criminal charges of copyright infringement, so can’t be charged as an accessory.

Entertainment industry seeking $14.3 million USD in damages.

Defense: Points out that Swedish court can award damages only for copyright infringement that has occurred in Sweden.

Prosecutor: Shows evidence of how an IFPI employee in Sweden downloaded the Beatles’ “Let it Be,” along with a number of other songs.

“File-sharing services can be used both legally and illegally,” one defense lawyer, Per Samuelsson, stressed to the court. “”It is legal to offer a service that can be used in both a legal and illegal way, according to Swedish law. It can be compared to making cars that can be driven faster than the speed limit.”

Another defense attorney, Jonas Nilsson, insisted that “the individual Internet users who use Pirate Bay services … must answer for the material they have in their possession or the files they might share with others.”

Being that The Pirate Bay’s servers at no time ever host any copyrighted material it’s hard to fathom how they can be charged for the misdeeds of its users. Other indexing sites like Google or Yahoo have yet to face similar charges despite both containing ample links to copyrighted material available for download. Why the disparity?

The trial is being covered via twitter HERE as it occurs, with the legend for abbreviations HERE. You can also watch a quick video recap in English HERE.

Trial day #2 will consist of the prosecutor detailing more charges against The Pirate Bay.

Stay tuned.

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