The Pirate Bay’s founders face jail after they’re denied a Supreme Court appeal

Feb 02

The founders of controversial BitTorrent search site The Pirate Bay have been denied a Supreme Court appeal in Sweden, meaning that the prison sentences and fines they were handed in November 2010 will stand – but it seems there’s still a chance they may avoid jail.

As TorrentFreak and The Local report, Sweden’s Supreme Court’s decision to deny an appeal on the ruling was announced this morning. This means that Pirate Bay founders Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Carl Lundström and Gottfrid Svartholm face between 4 and 10 months in prison as well as a total of $6.8 million in fines between them.

Carl Lundström’s lawyer has described the ruling to Swedish site DN as “absurd,” saying “I am disappointed that the court is so uninterested to dissect and look through all the legal comings and goings in one of the world’s most watched court cases of all time.”

Meanwhile, the legal counsel for Sweden’s Anti-Piracy Bureau, quoted by The Local, commented that ”A society ruled by law has now had its say and this is a breaking point in a drawn out discussion about copyright on the internet. The highest court has made it clear that anyone who takes any part in these crimes, even those who supply the internet connection, will have to face up to their responsibility.”

However, the length of time this case has been running may play into the Pirate Bay founders’ hands by keeping them out of jail. As TorrentFreak reports, “It is common in the Swedish justice system to deduct 12 months from any prison sentence on cases over 5 years old. Since the case in question meets that criteria the Pirate Bay defendants would qualify, but the decision lies with the court.” TorrentFreak also reports that one of the Pirate Bay founders intends to take the case to the European Court of Justice.

Regardless of whether the four (one of whom was sentenced in his absence) end up in jail or not, their fines still stand. The Pirate Bay was sold by its original owners in June 2009.

UPDATE: Peter Sunde, who since leaving The Pirate Bay has founded micropayments service Flattr, has written about today’s news on his blog, blaming what he describes as corruption in the Swedish legal system.

“Even though the outcome (which we still haven’t reached) is not favorable for my personal situation, the end goal that we fight for is so much more important than some peoples personal struggles. I’ll live with not being rich – which is easy when you’re not rich anyhow – the rest of my life.

“I’ll live with whatever sentence I’ll get in the end – I’ll just finish my book. The fight goes on with or without me, I’m just a pawn. But at least I’m a pawn on the morally right side. I’m proud as hell of what I’ve done and I would not change my involvement in any way. I actually think I could have done much more for the fight. And I will.”

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