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Pirate Bay founders appeal to EC to save them from Swedish justice

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Two founders of notorious BitTorrent search website, The Pirate Bay, are bidding to get an earlier Swedish court verdict overturned at the European Court of Human Rights.

Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Carl Lundström and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg were handed prison sentences and hefty fines in 2009 for their involvement in running the site.

Now Sunde and Neij are appealing against that verdict at the ECHR, after Sweden's Supreme Court dismissed their bid to have the case overturned in February this year.

While unsuccessful at getting the case chucked out by a number of courts in Sweden, an earlier appeal against the initial decision did lead to the one-year prison sentences for the four men being reduced. However, at the same time, fines were jacked up to a combined penalty of 46m kronor (£4.3m).

“Essentially we’re arguing that Sweden is disregarding our human rights since they haven’t agreed to EU legislation in our court case,” Sunde told GigaOM.

The other two men - Lundström and Svartholm Warg - have not joined Sunde and Neij in taking their gripes to the ECHR.

Sunde claimed not to have any contact with Lundström, a controversial figure who previously had links to a neo-Nazi gang of skinheads and is also the heir to the Swedish crispbread empire.

Svartholm Warg, who is understood to have been living "somewhere in Asia" for several years now, was absent from the court in late 2010 due to ill health. He will not be part of the ECHR case as he did not appeal against the original verdict handed down to the four men.

Just yesterday, the UK's national telco BT cut off conventional access to TPB for its customers, following a court order.

BT punters attempting to connect to the site are simply greeted with a message that reads: "Error - site blocked."

The telecoms giant was the final big name ISP in Blighty to implement the order. Over the course of the last few weeks, Virgin Media, BSkyB, O2-owner Telefonica, Everything Everywhere and TalkTalk all complied with the order, after a High Court judge ruled in February that The Pirate Bay and its users had violated music labels' copyright.

Music lobby group BPI, which acted in court on behalf of some well-known record companies in the UK, declined to comment on questions put to it by The Register.

We asked what action might be taken next, given that TPB is being hosted elsewhere. The operators of the site have long argued that they can keep up such activity for years, either via new addresses or by proxies that have been set up by other users.

Sunde, in a 2010 interview with El Reg, once likened the site to being a "HAL entity that kinda runs itself." ®

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