The lols continue at the Pirate Bay “spectrial” in Sweden, with day four of the court case seeing the prosecutors make yet another mis-step. Movie industry lawyer Monique Wadsted attempted to introduce completely new, previously-unseen, evidence – something which didn’t go down well with either the defence or the judge.
Most of the morning revolved around questioning defendant Fredrik Neij (TiAMO) individually, with the prosecution trying to link the four administrators to the actions of their users and to advertisers.
At one point, Fredrik was asked whether advertiser Oded Daniel was involved in the technical running of the site – Fredik’s response was “No, he’s not good at that. He uses Windows, so…” and there was a massive burst of laughter through the wall from bloggers next door in the listening lounge.
Fredrik also explained how Anti-p2p companies like MediaDefender manipulate statistics, with their actions making certain torrents appear far more active than in reality. Fredrik claimed that he had no ideological connection with the site – he simply wanted to play with the Bittorrent technology.
Later on, a crucial point was elaborated upon in detail – how .torrent files can be shared in many different ways – via email or FTP, for example. This is important, because the role that the Pirate Bay performs in the Bittorrent process could just as easily be done by Google. In fact, here‘s a how-to.
The story’s still developing today, and in the latest developments the prosecutors have tried to link the Pirate Bay to child pornography – a favourite tactic of anti-p2p activists. Gottfrid said that they report the ones they spot to the police, but that it isn’t up to the site to investigate: “We can’t do investigations of our own. And if the police says we should remove a torrent, we will”.
More tomorrow. In the meantime, hackers have been defacing sites owned by the IFPI, playing the following message on ifpi.se:
Stop lying HÅKAN ROSWALL!:
The ruthless hunt conducted by the IFPI, Anti-Piracy Office, Warner Bros., and all the other companies with a pawn in the game has now resulted in a trial in which four innocent men are accused of copyright infringement. This is a declaration of war against anti-piracy outfits and the industry players behind them, and we urge the public to boycott and lynch those responsible. IFPI is just the beginning. To be Continued.
The New Generation
The defendants in the trial, however, aren’t too happy about it, with Peter Sunde (brokep) saying:
“Our case is going quite well as most of you have noticed. In the light of that it feels very bad that people are hacking web sites which actually puts us in a worse light than we need to be in. If anyone involved in the acts going on is reading this – please stop, for our sake. We don’t need that kind of support.”
All IFPI sites are now back online.
As we’ve reported on developments in the Pirate Bay’s trial for two days running now, I don’t see why we shouldn’t carry on, so long as there’s interesting stuff to share.
Today’s session was cut rather short, but the whole trial is still ahead of schedule. It began with the prosecutor presenting his amended charges (following the withdrawing of half of them) and outlining the damages sought by the content owners.
Interestingly, they’re calling every download a lost sale, and multiplying any damages by 10 if they were leaked before release, or otherwise unavailable online. In one case, the Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau doubled all their damages to account for a “loss of goodwill”.
In the second half of the session, the defence responded, and reacting to the new charges, again asserted their innocence. Each picked holes in the case of the prosecution, but nothing we hadn’t heard before until Carl Lundström’s lawyer, Per E Samuelsson took the floor.
“EU directive 2000/31/EG says that he who provides an information service is not responsible for the information that is being transferred. In order to be responsible, the service provider must initiate the transfer. But the admins of The Pirate Bay don’t initiate transfers. It’s the users that do and they are physically identifiable people. They call themselves names like King Kong,”
“According to legal procedure, the accusations must be against an individual and there must be a close tie between the perpetrators of a crime and those who are assisting. This tie has not been shown. The prosecutor must show that Carl Lundström personally has interacted with the user King Kong, who may very well be found in the jungles of Cambodia,”
Basically, he’s saying that for the defendants to be guilty, they need to have personally been involved with every interaction between sharers and downloaders – simply setting up the noticeboard isn’t good enough, especially as there are plenty of people using that same noticeboard for sharing perfectly legitimate content.
Following that statement, the court adjourned the case until tomorrow. On brokep’s fantastic Twitter stream, he relates that everyone then went for pizza together. He asked the prosecution to pick up the bill. They refused.
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, and TPB claim that upto 80% of web traffic is bittorrent.
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.
The four operators of the Pirate Bay, the internet’s premier Bittorrent tracker, began their trial today in Sweden, accused of 33 cases of copyright infringement. According to charges filed by the public prosecutor, they’re “promoting other people’s infringements of copyright laws”, a reference to the fact that the site simply links to copyrighted content – it doesn’t actually host anything itself.
Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi and Carl Lundström face a fine of £100,000 and up to two years in prison, but the real effect will be on the future of file-sharing on the internet. A victory for the Pirate Bay would set back the cause of content-owners world wide.
The Pirate Bay is calling the event a “Spectrial” – a cross between a spectacle and trial. They’re trying to make the reporting of the case as open and transparent as possible, with audio and video streams available in multiple languages.
The Pirate Bay has launched a blog – http://trial.thepiratebay.org/ – though it’s currently struggling under heavy traffic, and it’s encouraging people to use the #spectrial hashtag when discussing it on Twitter. Blogs like ZeroPaid and TorrentFreak are also covering the trial in fine detail.
What I find most baffling about the whole affair, though, is that the authorities think that they can make a dent in file-sharing volumes by shutting down the Pirate Bay. If that was to happen, then 99.5% of its users would just move to another site and carry on as if nothing had happened.
Even if Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi and Carl Lundström go to jail for this, it’s highly unlikely that the site will go down for longer than 24 hours or so. I strongly suspect that the operators have backup plans in place just for that very event.
Still, I suppose the Swedish government has to appear as if its doing something to placate the content-owners whose business is crashing all around them. I just hope that they have some sense of reality about the game of whack-a-mole that they’re playing.