Court convicts four over online file-sharing

April 17th, 2009 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Stockholm, April 17 (DPA) Four men were convicted Friday by a Swedish district court of operating a website which allows illegal file sharing, and sentenced to year-long jail terms.
The Stockholm district court also ruled that the four should pay damages of some 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) for being accessories to copyright infringements by allowing the Pirate Bay website to be used to swap films and music.

The prosecutor had called for one-year jail terms in his closing statement in March, but had wanted the four to pay some 100 million kronor in damages.

Judge Tomas Norstrom told reporters the court was unanimous and considered that the four had worked “as a team”.

“The damages were high,” Norstrom said, adding that the court had taking into account the claims from film and record companies and related it to Swedish copyright legislation.

“We were very careful in our assessment,” Norstrom added, noting that there were queries about the counter used on the site that tracked the number of files up- and downloaded.

Prior to the ruling, the four defendants Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundstrom had said they planned to appeal. Their lawyers confirmed the plans after the ruling.

Pirate Bay’s backers had said it was a not-for-profit group that did not store copyrighted material, but only offered a search engine for users who exchange music, films and computer games. The ruling said the organisation was commercial and organised. The search engine was “well-developed”, Norstrom added.

Evidence against the four included e-mails, data traffic lists, interviews with the suspects, as well as information from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the Anti-Piracy Agency formed by Swedish film and computer game producers and distributors.

Henrik Ponten of the Anti-Piracy Agency welcomed the ruling noting that the court said the website’s activities were illegal.

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