The verdict against three people assoiated with the BitTorrent tracking site Pirate Bay was upheld by the Swedish Appeal Court today. Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundström were found guilty of “contributory copyright infringment” in April, but the group appealed the sentence – which included one year in prison and a sizable fine. Today’s ruling upheld that conviction, decreasing the length of the prison sentence, but increasing the damages that the trio will have to pay to more than $6.5 million.
The Pirate Bay never actually hosted copyrighted materials, instead providing a means to search for as well as links to the torrent files. Nonetheless the court said that “The Pirate Bay has facilitated illegal file-sharing in a way that results in criminal liability for those who run the service. For the three defendants the court of appeal believes it is proven that they participated in these activities in different ways and to varying degrees.” This translates into a varying prison sentence ranging from 4 to 10 months for the three, who will share equally the total damages of 46 million kroner.
In justifying the increase in damages in this ruling, the appeals court said that it had “to a greater extent than the district court, accepted the plaintiff companies’ evidence of its losses as a result of file-sharing.”
A fourth defendant from the original conviction, Gottfrid Svartholm, was not included in today’s verdict as he was absent at the court hearings due to medical circumstances. His case is still pending.
While awarding large damages in these sorts of cases has become common, sentencing people to prison is unusual. Peter Sunde told TorrentFreak that “”They’re giving us jail even though it’s not the right thing for the ‘crime.’ It’s just to scare people. That’s what you did in the 1600s.” He indicated that the group intends to appeal today’s decision to the Swedish Supreme Court.
One of the entertainment industry lawyers, Monique Wadsted, is quoted in the New York Times as saying “My assessment is that in two years this type of piracy activity will be completely dead.” However the court battles, including today’s ruling, have yet to impact the ability of The Pirate Bay to stay online.