In a landmark verdict in Sweden today, four men behind the number one P2P/Torrent website Pirate Bay, have been sentenced to one year in prison and £2.4 million in damages.
However, the four men, Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde, plan to appeal the verdict and remain in high spirits – even joking on Twitter. The case, being trailed in Sweden, has been a small circus. The men behind Pirate Bay (or, as I will now call them, the Pirates) have had the support of some of the public. They are playing the rebel card against big bad corporations.
Today’s verdict, which many people saw as a lot harsher than expected, seems to shatter that image. Fact of the matter is Pirate Bay made these pirates very, very rich men. On the back of content, and the eyeballs of their users, for which they clearly care nothing about.
It’s a turning point in the history of digital music. And once again, it is Sweden who is leading the charge. As the Pirates fight on technicalities such as not having anything illegal on their servers, it’s clear that everyone knows what they are doing and their intentions.
(As an aisde – cloud computing will be the big event of the next 24 months. Having anything on your servers at all could soon be irrelevant)
Some of the world’s media, and the people questioned by the media, remain pessimistic. Kill one, and another takes it’s place. The fall of Napster did nothing to turn the tide. But the people behind Napster did not go to prison.
This is a good thing. Our music, our games, our movies, have been devalued too much now. But with services like the BBC iPlayer and Spotify (also Swedish) making free access to great content a legal viability, there’s no reason free can’t be associated again with ‘high quality’, ‘official’ and ‘artist’. Enjoying music should not be a irty, potentially illegal thing. It doesn’t have to be.
The fight is to push priacy to the margins. The Pirate Bay servers are not in Sweden and it’s a loophole that will allow the site to continue operations. But the verdict sets a precedent for the EU, and perhaps the world. Pirate Bay offers a $6US service that hides your IP address. But once it becaomes not free – it loses all it’s glamour.
In the end though, another one will pop up. Just as there were always bootleg labels in the vinyl era, and the CD era. So much – music, movies, TV and more – is simply not available anywhere else. This whole thing got started because someone really wanted to experience something – be it a song or a film. and that person is still going to be unhappy after today.
Today, the first Pirate Bay server box resides in a museum in Stockholm. Today, it’s begins it’s journey as a relic of the past.