In a shock development this morning at the “Spectrial” of the Pirate Bay’s four administrators, half the charges against the site have been dropped. It’s a massive blow for the prosecutors, who will now only be able to try the defendants for “assisting making available”.
This happens on only the second day of the trial, and came about because the prosecutor has no way of proving that the .torrent files that he’s using as evidence were actually tracked by The Pirate Bay at any point. In fact, many of the screenshots submitted clearly state that there’s no connection to the tracker.
This is significant because, as I pointed out on Channel 4 News yesterday, the Pirate Bay only acts as a signpost for the files shared over it. It’s like a matchmaking service – uniting people who have content with the people who want it. It takes no part in the actual transaction. As a result, the Pirate Bay likens the trial to a car manufacturer being prosecuted for making cars that can exceed the speed limit.
In the meantime, the site itself has seen a surge in popularity thanks to the publicity from the trial. 150,000 more torrents are currently being shared than at the same time last week. Swedish web traffic is also up 10Gbs over previous weeks – the Pirate Bay claims that upto 80% of all web traffic is bittorrent, so that also suggests a massive jump in usage.
Of course, this won’t stop the prosecutors attempting to being the site to justice once more, with stronger evidence, but given that the trial’s been two years in the making already, it’s not going to be soon. Given the inevitable appeals the the four promise following any successful prosecution, by the time any action is taken on the site, there’ll almost certainly be a new king of the hill in the filesharing world.