Having just made it through a high-profile trial in their native Sweden, four men closely associated with The Pirate Bay may now have to face justice in Italy.
IDG is reporting that that country is now considering initiating its own prosecution of Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundström for alleged violations of Italy's copyright law. This would be the first criminal prosecution against the four Pirate Bay players outside their home nation.
On April 17, the four defendants were found guilty of having made copyright-protected files accessible for illegal file sharing via the Piratebay.org Web site, one of the most visited BitTorrent destinations in the world. All four were sentenced to a year in prison, and the group was fined the equivalent of $3.6 million.
The news stirred outrage and disbelief among fans, while those at big entertainment companies rejoiced. The defendants says they have filed an appeal.
In August of last year, as part of a crackdown of BitTorrent sites in Italy, Internet service providers there were ordered to block access to the Pirate Bay site. The Pirate Bay appealed the block and eventually won the court case.
But following the Swedish trial, according to IDG, at least one group representing Italian copyright holders is already expressing optimism that the outcome of the landmark Swedish case could benefit prosecutors in subsequent litigation.
"An acquittal in Sweden could have created difficulties for the Italian prosecution," Enzo Mazza, president of the Italian Music Industry Federation (FIMI), told IDG." The guilty verdict will strengthen the hand of the prosecutor in Italy."
But lawyers for Pirate Bay spokesman Sunde told the site TorrentFreak that Mazza might be expressing optimism prematurely.
"The Italian case has many different peculiarities, starting with jurisdiction issues, which make the Swedish decision much less relevant than it could seem at first glance," Francesco Paolo Micozzi and Giovanni Battista Gallus said. In addition, they added, "every decision is based on its own evidence, and in the Italian case the trial is yet to start."
Italian prosecutors will reportedly decide within the next few months whether they will proceed with legal action against the Pirate Bay four. We will of course keep you posted.