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Piratebay operators hope to win compensation

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Updated The Swedish web operators behind raided site Piratebay.org will seek damages from the Swedish authorities if they can prove their innocence, according to a statement on the site earlier today.

The statement, which promised that the site would be functional again within a day or two, said that those behind the site "can receive compensation from the Swedish state [if] the upcoming legal processes show that [Piratebay] is indeed legal".

However, a Swedish legal expert has denounced their intended defence as "silly".

Swedish police staged a spectacular simultaneous raid on a series of premises holding the servers hosting Piratebay.org, confiscating the servers holding the site and bringing the site down.

The site was accused of being a source of global internet piracy and itself claimed to be the world's largest BitTorrent search index. BitTorrent is a technology which makes it easier to transmit large files, such as music or films, over the internet. In itself it is not illegal, and Hollywood studio Warner Bros has just agreed to use BitTorrent to distribute its material.

One pressure group associated with the site claims that the Swedish police were misled and incompetent in their actions.

"[Anti piracy group] Antipiratbyran has clearly misled the police in this case," said Tobias Andersson of Piratbyran, a spin-off of Piratebay.org dedicated to promoting file-sharing. "They seem to have convinced incompetent police that the servers in question are filled with copyright protected materials." The Piratbyran statement said that there is "no illegal material on the actual server".

The servers contained not media files but links to BitTorrent files containing material. Christopher Wallin of the IT group of Swedish law firm Delphi & Co said that this is not likely to be a successful defence. "Our opinion is that that is silly. That is an argument they have been making for the last two or three years," said Wallin. "They have committed a contributory offence, it is a contribution to copyright infringement."

Though no direct representative of the site could be contacted, a statement on the site said: "The necessity for securing technical evidence for the existence of a web service which is fully official, the legality of which has been under public debate for years and whose principals are public persons giving regular press interviews, could not be explained. Asked for other reasoning behind the choice to take down a site, without knowing whether it is illegal or not, the officers explained that this is normal."

Copyright law in Sweden has been more lax than in other European countries, though recent changes have brought the law more closely in line with that in other nations. Sweden used to be known as a music and film pirate's haven because downloading copyrighted material without a licence was not an offence until last summer.

"Uploading was always an offence but downloading was not," Wallin said. "That changed last summer. The law was not so much changed as clarified."

"This is a very important development for Sweden, a country which has recently acquired a reputation as a haven for copyright infringement," said John Kennedy, chief executive of recording industry representative body the IFPI. "The Pirate Bay has damaged the legitimate music industry on an international scale and I am very pleased that the Swedish authorities have today taken such decisive action against it."

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Bootnote

A website run by Swedish police has been forced offline following a denial of service attack. The attack on Friday came two days after Swedish police seized servers associated with ThePirateBay.org, the largest search index for BitTorrent, bringing its web site down. Three people were arrested during a series of 10 raids and released pending further inquiries. It's unclear if the denial of service attack against Swedish police is linked to raids against ThePirateBay.org or motivated by some other reason, the BBC reports.

Hackers also attacked regional websites run by Sony BMG and Warner Music on Wednesday, defacing the content on Italian, Korean and UK sites. Links between these attacks and those against Swedish Police remain circumstantial at best. You can view the defacements in archives run by Zone-h here. ®

Additional reporting by John Leyden.

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