All eyes in the film and music industries are currently focused on the start of the major trial of four men in Sweden who are charged with facilitating the distribution of copyrighted material on the internet.
The trial, which is anticipated to be the most significant internet piracy case in recent times, concerns the Swedish file-sharing website Pirate Bay. The site facilitates the illegal downloading of music, games and films through a data-sharing protocol called BitTorrent. The four men accused face a possible fine of £100,000 and a maximum prison sentence of two years.
The case of Pirate Bay highlights what a hot topic the enforcement of copyright has become since the advent of the internet. The website under fire has 25 million users worldwide and is financially backed by advertising. Pirate Bay is an example of a prevalent problem which is threatening to seriously harm the wellbeing and sustainability of the film and music industries.
Evidence of the industries’ desire to protect their intellectual property and the extent to which they are financially suffering because of piracy, is evidenced by the civil claim for compensation against Pirate Bay, which the industries are themselves simultaneously bringing to court. Those from the music industry are seeking 2.2 million Euros in compensation, while members of the film industry believe they are entitled to 10.9 million Euros for losses incurred as a result of Pirate Bay’s activities.
The four defendants in the Pirate Bay case represent the other school of thought which staunchly challenges the protection of intellectual property by copyright laws. The website was established by Piratbyran, a Swedish organisation which fights against copyright laws.
It is anticipated that those defending the four Pirate Bay men will argue that the site is legal under Swedish law because it neither stores copyrighted material, nor hosts the exchanging of files itself. Instead the website acts as a directory enabling its users to find each other with the intension of illegally sharing copyrighted material. It also provides the user with all the necessary information needed to do this.
Members of the film and music industries will undoubtedly be hoping for a landmark ruling which will serve a significant blow to internet piracy and act as a deterrent to those considering breeching copyright law on the internet. Both members of the media industries and intellectual property lawyers will be closely watching the outcome of this case, which is likely to have a profound effect either way.
Those responsible for Pirate Bay remain adamant that the site will continue, whatever the outcome of the trial, relocating to another country if necessary.
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