Swedish Judge Confirms Pirate Bay Convictions on Appeal

Three men found guilty of being accessories to crimes against copyright law for their part in running The Pirate Bay have lost their appeal, while a fourth man still awaits trial.

The three, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström, were originally each sentenced to a year in prison, but the Svea Court of Appeals reduced their sentences on Friday: Neij must now serve 10 months, Sunde eight months and Lundström four. However, the court raised the damages they must collectively pay, from 30 million Swedish kronor (US$3.6 million) to 46 million kronor.

The Pirate Bay is one of the most widely used torrent trackers for online sharers of music, movies, and software. The defendants have stated that The Pirate Bay is a legal site containing a collection of Internet links, but the entertainment industry sees it differently. A tracker doesn't host the files for download itself, but instead carries "torrent" files that point file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent to other computers that contain parts of the file to be downloaded.The original verdict against the three was handed down in April last year, and sentenced Neij, Sunde, Lundström and a fourth defendant, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg to one year in prison.

The reason for the reduction in prison time is that the Court of Appeals has taken a more individual approach. In the Court of Appeals, each person was punished only for the acts he had committed, the court said. (See the court's full, Swedish-language finding on Scribd and see video from the court on YouTube.)

Also, the court has found that some acts that the prosecutor has claimed to be part of an illegal activity have not been proved. Others are not punishable, according to the court. For example, the court has found that Sunde's role as The Pirate Bay's spokesman doesn't constitute a criminal offense. Sweden's freedom of press protection also includes a freedom to make statements to the press, it said.

Lundström's sentence was reduced because there wasn't enough proof for the allegation that he was a party of a contract according to which an external host owner was guaranteed a certain share of the profits.

Still, the entertainment industry seems to be content with the verdict.

The most important thing is that the defendants have been found guilty in the Court of Appeals as well, said Peter Danowsky, the lawyer who has represented the music industry. The verdict comes as relief, he said.

The defendants are understandably not as happy, and they are ready for another round.

"There will be an appeal to the supreme court, don't worry," Sunde said in a Twitter message.

The appeals trial took place in September and October, but Svartholm Warg was unable to take part due to illness, and will get a separate trial for which the dates will now be decided, according to judge Kristina Boutz.Since the original verdict, the entertainment industry's lawyers have done their best to shut down the site, asking courts around the world to force Internet service providers to block access to the site for their customers. The tactic has seen some success: users in Denmark can't access the site.

The defendants say they are no longer involved with The Pirate Bay, but it's still seen as the place to go to find the latest TV shows, movies and music. On Friday morning, the site had about 4.8 million registered users and 3.2 million torrents. The eighth episode from the seventh season of House was the most popular TV show and Inception was the most popular movie.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com.

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