Three of the four Scandinavian men convicted for operating The Pirate Bay--perhaps the best-known file-sharing tool in the world--were in a Swedish court today to begin their appeals court trial.
In April 2009, co-founders Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, and Carl Lundstrom were found guilty of copyright violations, sentenced to a year in prison, and ordered to pay the equivalent of $3.6 million. They are now trying to get their convictions overturned.
According to the Web site of Swedish publication Svenska Dagbladet, prosecutors produced e-mails allegedly written by some of the founders and used them to try to show that the defendants were responsible for mass copyright infringement.
In an e-mail that the prosecution said was from Lundstrom, a man who is accused of helping finance The Pirate Bay, Lundstrom allegedly wrote: "We're surrounded by the Anti-piracy Bureau. Should we close [the site] down or risk jail time?"
Prosecutors also told the court that Lundstrom considered moving the site to another country, according to Svenska Dagbladet. It is unclear when the e-mail was written. The defendants are due to present their defense later. According to the blog Torrentfreak, the trial could wrap up by October 15.
The Pirate Bay is a BitTorrent search engine that helps file sharers use the Web to track down pirated copies of films, music, games, software, and other digital content. Many of those who revel in unauthorized downloads see the site's founders as Internet buccaneers who helped the masses plunder unfairly priced content.
To the makers of this content, the men are nothing more than thieves who have built a business by helping people steal. The content makers say that the theft of their property has cost scores of jobs and that thus The Pirate Bay is a threat to the U.S. economy.
According to an English-language Swedish publication, The Local, the court proceedings were without any of the fanfare that accompanied the criminal trial for The Pirate Bay founders. Back then, crowds of supporters waved flags emblazoned with the skull and crossbones to show their support. That trial received heavy media coverage. This time, however, the appeals trial barely earned any media attention at all.
One wrinkle for the appeal trial was that Warg hadn't shown up for the start and none of the other Pirate Bay founders seemed to know his whereabouts.
Update at 7:44 a.m. PDT References added about e-mails presented by prosecution.
Update at 12:44 p.m. PDT A new translation added for alleged e-mails written by Carl Lundstrom.