Pirates at Bay

Yesterday a copyright infringement trial begain in Stockhome Sweden… at the center of the trial is Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi who have often voiced their disdain for copyright laws; and Carl Lundström who largely funded the venture.

You know these four more familiarly through their online identity, The Pirate Bay.

The focus of the prosecution’s case is that these individuals enabled others to share copyrighted property (IP), could have placed controls on the sharing of IP, and actually profited from the operation of the site that provided a directory of illegally shared IP.

The four’s defense is that they did not in fact share any IP, that they merely operated a site that provided “free speech” to individuals who wanted to post information there.

This is a very similar tactic used in the Napster, Grokster, and Kazaa litigation; but interestingly enough previous attempt to close The Pirate Bay have failed.

There are a number of key points that are going to be covered in this trial; one of which will likely be the EU privacy laws; the second is the commercial aspect of The Pirate Bay (they made lots of money, way more than it took to operate the business).

An interesting point in all of this is that the advertisers that supported The Pirate Bay have not been implicated in this case.  One would assume that they had as much knowledge of what was going on on the site as the owners.

The prosecution has been careful to avoid bringing file sharing into the case; in fact in their opening arguments they made it clear that they were not attempting to prevent file sharing as a whole, merely to protect the intellectual property of their clients.

Watch this case carefully, it will effect mostly what happens in Europe; but a win for the recording industry there will likely be seen as carte blanche to push forward with their efforts to have ISPs monitor what you and I do online without reguard to legalities.