They Hang Pirates, Don’t They?

By PatB
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

The Swedish trial of the four members of Pirate Bay is now over, and the pirates are going to jail.  Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde were found guilty and were sentenced to a year in the slammer for violating copyright and running the most notorious file sharing site on the web. 

From the BBC here:

A court in Sweden has jailed four men behind The Pirate Bay (TPB), the world’s most high-profile file-sharing website, in a landmark case.   Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde were found guilty of breaking copyright law and were sentenced to a year in jail.  They were also ordered to pay $4.5m (£3m) in damages.

Record companies welcomed the verdict but the men are to appeal and Sunde said they would refuse to pay the fine.

Speaking at an online press conference, he described the verdict as “bizarre. ”  “It’s serious to actually be found guilty and get jail time. It’s really serious. And that’s a bit weird,” Sunde said.   “It’s so bizarre that we were convicted at all and it’s even more bizarre that we were [convicted] as a team. The court said we were organised. I can’t get Gottfrid out of bed in the morning. If you’re going to convict us, convict us of disorganised crime.

“We can’t pay and we wouldn’t pay. Even if I had the money I would rather burn everything I owned, and I wouldn’t even give them the ashes.” 

The damages were awarded to a number of entertainment companies, including Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, and Columbia Pictures.

The Pirate Bay’s first server is now a museum exhibit in Stockholm.  No copyright content is hosted on The Pirate Bay’s web servers; instead the site hosts “torrent” links to TV, film and music files held on its users’ computers.

Way to stay defiant, Sunde.  Maybe that attitude and a pack of smokes can get you more time “in the yard” in the Swedish jail. 

Look, even if Pirate Bay never hosted a single file, there are pieces of information, that once assembled, become illegal.  That is a concept that online anarchists like Sunde can’t come to grips with.  Showing people how to violate copyright laws is an example of this concept.  Compiling privacy information by a government to be used to track people would be another.

Casey Lynn had a previous Pirate Bay post on [GaS] here.


17 Responses to They Hang Pirates, Don’t They?

  1. Yes, because this torrent is just so illegal! Everyone knows those Free Software people are destroying the software industry!

    The point they argued–correctly–in the court was that you can't punish someone for hosting a service which can be used for both good & evil. That someone used it for evil is that user's problem, not the service provider's.

    Funnily enough, most of the letters they get about copyright infringement cite the DMCA, which holds the above to be true.

    • I've always wondered if that same argument might have worked for Grokster (who tried to argue that, hey, but look, you can get public domain stuff too!) if they hadn't been stupid enough to have that "oh hey now that napster is gone come get your illegal music here!" marketing strategy.

    • MacKenzie,

      Tools used for good and criminal activity have indeed been identified by court systems and successfully defended. The difference lies with the intent of the toolmaker and his efforts to limit his own liability with the tool.

      Google can also be used to find illegally downloaded material. But google goes out of its way to make sure this type of material is not easily found and even eliminates it from its search results. Google limits their liability and works with content owners to come up with ways to protect copyright.

      Pirate Bay gave everyone a big middle finger. You shouldn't be shocked at the verdict.

  2. This is super offtopic, but this post was the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak. You know I really wish back in the day when you guys were thinking about how to abbreviated your brand that you'd have thought to just call it [GS] for short or at the very least, [GaS]. (which I suppose you could do still) There's just something wrong about saying Geeks are Sexy and then referring to them as Gas.

    lol or maybe, it's just me that feels this way.

  3. If criminals use cellphones to coordinate their activities, should the phone company CEO go to jail? If bank robbers use a short cut through a subdivision to escape, should the HOA go to jail? If terrorists use a plane to commit an act of terror, should the airline officials go to jail? If your neighbor hijacks your wifi to d/l kiddie porn should you go to jail?

        • MacKenzie,

          No, its just that TPB was promoted and marketed as a way to share illegally downloaded files. Sure, there were legitimate files too, which are still available from elsewhere, but TPB did nothing to limit their culpability and liability in the distribution of illegally downloaded copyright protected works.

          They could have done so, but chose not to. Had they tried to filter out the works of copyrighted material and worked with the copyright holders to protect their works, they would not have lost on trial. They could have successfully argued that they were doing their best to limit their liability and could cite their cooperation with copyright holders. Instead they showed the middle finger.

          To relate this to cellphones, if a company created cellphones that specifically assisted criminals in furthering their criminal activity and marketed it that way, they would be shut down by law enforcement and the court systems. Imagine a cellphone that cloned other calls and made international calls using other peoples' accounts. That would be wrong, and the company that marketed this phone would be targeted by the legitimate account holders for phonejacking. You can't blame the cell carriers like AT&T or Verizon for the illegal operations of a rogue cellphone company. You blame the company who designed an application that allowed criminals to use cellphones to clone other phones.

          Its not the technology- its the application.

  4. "Look, even if Pirate Bay never hosted a single file, there are pieces of information, that once assembled, become illegal. That is a concept that online anarchists like Sunde can’t come to grips with. Showing people how to violate copyright laws is an example of this concept. Compiling privacy information by a government to be used to track people would be another."

    This very argument could be used to bring down the ISPs, Microsoft, Apple, etc for providing a means of breaking the law. The ISPs allowed the pieces of information (that when combined violate copyright law) to pass through their networks. Microsoft, Apple and the rest of the OS organizations have created tools (browsers, email servers/clients, news readers, music/video players, etc) that allow people to copy, split up, recombine, etc the copyrighted information.

    • Matthew,

      The ISP's and OS makers did not design an application directly tied to deliberate violation of copyright laws. You may as well claim that Michael Faraday is to blame for making the capacitors that enable computers to function. The court systems know better.

      • The only thing these guys did was attempt to make money off of something that happens with or without them. If the courts did not have their heads completely up their asses, they would have left it alone, infiltrated it, and used its traffic as it as additional supporting indicators in the GWOT. Idiots.

        • And if you pay attention to the trial, they even said they weren't trying to make money. The ads on the site pay for the bandwidth, and that's it.

  5. I think your just baiting with your take on the verdict of the case to drive site traffic and argument. I sincerely doubt, especially based on the comments so far, that your core audience agrees with your stance.

  6. I'm really disappointed this piece of biased garbage showed up on GAS, especially since I'm sure a lot of the traffic here also has in their cache.

    And I AM actually suprised at the verdict. Just look at the argument in these comments. Even if the TPB was to be found guilty in the end, the trail seemed fairly hastened to me. Nine days? Maybe the Swedish courts make more efficient use of their time than the ones here in the US.

    I also don't think the attitude of defiance is limited to the creators of TPB. There are plenty of torrent sites, and this has essentially been a "middle finger" to the people that have chosen not to be raped by Hollywood. I am almost positive this will only increase the amount of torrenting and lead to even more secure servers and locations of servers, only creating more illegal material cycling around.

    This concept shouldn't be to impossible for right wing nutjobs to come to grips with. How are the ones prosecuting TPB not "asking for it"?

    Also Gwenny and Matthew, I don't think were given a fair rebuttal from PatB, just some talking in circles really.

    Yes, the The Pirate Bay has allowed internet users to "steal" SOME material, but the isps and the internet as a whole has allowed ALL of the copyrighted material to be "stolen".

    Also, without computers there would be no cybercrime, or trafficking of any materials. The manufactures of computers and OSes are directly responsible for ALL internet crime, maybe not legally, or maybe so, I don't pretend to know the law like some others do, but logically and ethically, yes, they are.

    And I have nothing against the writer of this article, but I am shocked this appeared on GAS. I would not be suprised at the percentage of users actively use torrents, or at the amount of potential traffic a "geek" site could lose with a post like this.

    My two cents. Steppin' of my soapbox now.

    • I pondered about if this piece should have stayed online yesterday, but since this is a multi-author site, and everyone has their opinions, I decided to keep it online. I was especially curious about the response from the audience, and yes, I mostly agree with what everyone has said.

      Now I have tremendous respect from PatB. the guy is an IT security guru and never talks through his hat. he has a strong point of view that is often contrary to what most people think. I thought leaving it here would stimulate conversation. I do not think we'll be losing readers with this. We've occasionally posted controversial material in the past, and people haven't stopped reading us.

  7. If their appeals fail, hopefully their soapboxes have rope on them. :/

    Just thought I would lighten the topic up a bit.


  8. I was quite surprised at the verdict in this case. It makes no sense to find these guys guilty of direct copyright infringement, see as:

    * They do not hold any copyrighted material on their servers. They only hold .torrent files (not under copyright) and run an open tracker (which simply notes which IP addresses want a particular data hash).

    * Any .torrent files they do hold are uploaded by third parties.

    * They do not participate in the sharing of copyrighted material. (Even if they did, this should be tried as separate cases against each individual.)

    If they should be found guilty of anything, it should be indirect copyright infringement. However, I think even that decision would be questionable, as they have no easy way of telling if a .torrent file points to copyrighted material, or if the material has been released by the copyright holder.

    Something tells me that the judge has caved in to political pressure and not made a verdict purely on the weight of the evidence.

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