The four founders of The Pirate Bay have been found guilty of infringing copyright law by a Swedish court – each founder has been jailed for one year and together they must pay total damages of £2.4m.
The Pirate Bay is considered to be one of the most high profile file-sharing websites. It was set-up by the anti-copyright organisation Piratbryan in 2003 and operates a bit-torrent file-sharing system through which millions of files can be shared by users. This method of file-sharing means that there is no copyright content actually hosted on The Pirate Bay's site - however it allows users to exchange TV, film and music files which they have stored on their computer.
The founders had argued that since they had not hosted any copyright content on the website they were not breaking any copyright laws. In deliberating the facts presented, the Swedish court found this not to be the case. Assistant Swedish judge Klarius provided an insight into how the court came to its decision to severely punish all of the founders, he stated: "The court first tried whether there was any question of breach of copyright by the file-sharing application and that has been proved, that the offence was committed…. The court then moved on to look at those who acted as a team to operate the Pirate Bay file-sharing service, and the court found that they knew that material which was protected by copyright but continued to operate the service."
John Kennedy the chairman of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) commented on the decision that was made stating: "The Pirate Bay did immense harm and the damages awarded doesn't even get close to compensation…There has been a perception that piracy is ok and that the music industry should just have to accept it. This verdict will change that."
It seems however that the bit-torrent battle is far from over as the popularity of unauthorised file sharing is continuing to grow. The IFPI have previously stated that billions of illegal files were swapped in 2007. In the meantime the founders, who have expressed their shock and surprise that such a decision has been made against them, have stated that The Pirate Bay will continue to operate as they intend to lodge an appeal against the decision made.