ECHR upholds conviction of Pirate Bay co-founders
MOSCOW, March 14 - RAPSI. The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the Pirate Bay co-founders' criminal conviction for aiding copyright infringement on the Internet, reads the ECHR press release published on Wednesday.
In 2009, Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi were sentenced to one year in prison for complicity in sharing, or allowing others to share, torrent files.
Swedish national Fredrik Neij was born in 1978 and lives in Bangkok. Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, a Finnish national, was born in 1978 and lives in Berlin. The Pirate Bay (TPB) allows users to exchange digital material such as music, films and computer games.
The project was founded in November 2003 and soon The Pirate Bay became one of the hundred most popular sites in the world. In 2006 the Swedish authorities tried to cut the operation of their torrent tracker short by confiscating their servers, but it started up again soon after the police raid. The Pirate Bay's server was later moved out of Sweden.
Mr. Neij and Mr. Sunde Kolmisoppi were charged in January 2008. In April 2009, the Stockholm District Court sentenced the TPB co-founders to one year in prison for complicity to commit crimes in violation of the Copyright Act and also ordered them, together with the other defendants, to pay joint damages of approximately 3.3 million euros. In November 2010, the Svea Court of Appeal reduced their prison sentences but increased the damages to almost 5 million euros. The Supreme Court then refused the Pirate Bay co-founders the right to appeal in February 2012.
Mr. Neij and Mr. Sunde Kolmisoppi subsequently lodged an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that their conviction "had breached their freedom of expression". They alleged that they "could not be held responsible for other people's use of TPB, the initial purpose of which was merely to facilitate the exchange of data on the Internet. According to them, only those users who had exchanged illegal information on copyright-protected material had committed an offence", reads the ECHR press release.
The ECHR ruled that the Swedish courts "had rightly balanced the competing interests at stake - the right of the applicants to receive and impart information and the necessity to protect copyright - when convicting the applicants and therefore rejected their application as manifestly ill-founded."