Pirate Bay Decision Nears

By Richard Menta 4/13/09

This Friday April 17th a Swedish court will make a ruling on the legality of the Pirate Bay after a three week trial that has painted those accused in that mix civil/criminal trial as both Internet heroes and digital thieves.

How the Pirate Bay trial will go is anyone's guess. I have long since given up trying to handicap legal proceedings. I say that not because I can't digest legal precepts if presented in a clear manner, but because different judges will always have different opinions on how an existing law may be applied. Rulings are endlessly appealed and overturned, sometimes re-instated by yet higher courts. Unless opposing sides both have a deep supply of funds to finance expensive court expenses the process favors the side with the stronger fiscal hand.

Fortunately for the Pirate Bay, the Swedes tie up their court proceedings in a manner of weeks. Here in the US the Pirate Bay lawyers could spend a year just battling through pre-trial motions as Napster did earlier in the decade. Still, the financial strain on the Pirate Bay has to be significant. As we watch Seeqpod forced into bankruptcy due to the lawsuits brought against it by the major labels the real story here may be whether the Pirate Bay accused; Carl Lundström, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Hans Fredrik Neij, and Peter Sunde, can weather the financial burdens place upon them.

In the 80's the second and third highest courts in the US ruled that the VCR was an illegal device. Those same courts ruled a few years back that the P2P application Grokster was legal. Both cases were reversed by the Supreme Court who created new tests to measure the legality of disruptive technologies under copyright law. We may see something like that happen in Sweden. If so it means the Pirate Bay and its supporters have a very long road ahead with no guarantee on the outcome.

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