Three of the men behind The Pirate Bay’s file sharing website have lost their appeal against an earlier ruling which found them guilty of contributory copyright infringement.
The original criminal and civil proceedings were commenced against the three founders of The Pirate Bay at the request of International Federation of the Phonographic Industry Sweden (IFPI Sweden) in the District Court of Stockholm. Charges were also brought against the founder of Rix Telecom AB, which provided colocation space and Internet access to the company hosting the Pirate Bay bittorrent tracker. The prosecution claimed that the defendants were responsible for developing, administering and hosting the bittorrent tracker site thereby facilitating illegal file sharing and breach of copyright. The four men were found guilty of contributory copyright infringement and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and a collective fine of US$3.6 million.
The defendants appealed that ruling on the basis that The Pirate Bay had not hosted copyrighted materials but solely provided a means to search for and link the torrent files. Though the defendants also claimed bias on the part of the District Court judge who presided over the case (he was also a member of the Swedish copyright association), the judge was cleared of bias.
The Swedish Court of Appeal upheld the District Court’s ruling against the defendants, stating that the individuals behind The Pirate Bay service had facilitated illegal file-sharing in a manner that created criminal liability. Despite upholding the ruling, the prison sentences for the three have been reduced. Damages, however, have been increased to US$6.5 million.
A lawyer for one of the defendants has stated that his client intended to appeal, bringing his case before the Supreme Court.
The case of the fourth defendant is still pending due to ill health.