The copyright infringement trial against the four men behind The Pirate Bay kicked off in Stockholm this morning.
Charges were brought against the defendants (Carl Lundström, Peter Sunde, Frederik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg), who are behind the operations of the infamous website, in January 2008.
The four are accused of being accessories to breaking copyright law and face up to two years in prison and a fine of 1.2m kronor ($143,500) if they are found guilty.
At a news conference yesterday The Pirate Bay remained characteristically defiant that the site would live on regardless of the outcome of the case.
“What are they going to do? They have already failed to take the site down once. Let them fail again,” said Svartholm Warg, according to TorrentFreak.
“It isn’t the site facing the courts,” said Sunde. “It has its own life without us.”
The Pirate Bay creators have continuously insisted that the website merely acts only as a search engine and does not carry any infringing content itself.
Unsurprisingly, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents 1,400 member record companies worldwide, disagreed with that stance.
“The criminal prosecution of The Pirate Bay is about protecting creators from those who violate their rights and deprive them of their deserved rewards. The Pirate Bay has hurt creators of many different kinds of works, from music to film, from books to TV programmes,” said IFPI boss John Kennedy on Friday.
“It has been particularly harmful in distributing copyrighted works prior to their official release. This damages sales of music at the most important time of their lifecycle.
“The evidence in this case will show that The Pirate Bay is a commercial business which made substantial amounts of money for its operators, despite their claim to be only interested in spreading culture for free.”
The Stockholm district court will also reportedly rule on the entertainment industry's compensation demands of around 117m kronor ($14m) for lost sales income.
But The Pirate Bay founders disputed the allegations that the website's operations were continuing to turn over a hefty profit.
“It does not matter if they require several million or one billion. We are not rich and have no money to pay,” said Sunde. “They won’t get a cent.”
Swedish police first raided server locations connected with the notorious site in May 2006, following pressure from the US government.
Prosecutor Håkan Roswall expects the landmark case to last 13 days. ®