I’m surprised that it took me so long to hear about this, especially because I use BitTorrent quite often – the makers of The Pirate Bay were fined millions of dollars and sentenced to jail for "assisting in making copyright content available."
For those who don’t know, The Pirate Bay is a website that provides torrents for download. With these torrents, people worldwide can connect with others’ computers and transfer files directly from one computer to another. Even better, a user can connect to multiple other users at a time and download different portions of the same file simultaneously, allowing for much greater download speeds. Torrents were originally created to transfer documents and resources among students in universities and employees in office buildings. By making direct peer-to-peer connections, bandwidth costs for uploading to and downloading from a secondary host on the internet were eliminated.
There’s always a wrong way to use something – not long after, people started sharing copyrighted material over the torrenting network. Only one person had to purchase a product, and everyone else could get the software free by downloading it straight off of the original buyer’s computer. Programmers, musicians, and producers were losing massive amounts of money when their programs, music, and movies were being circulated without them ever receiving a penny.
Millions of people flocked to use torrents, and soon enough, websites solely dedicated to distributing torrent files were created. A pretty famous one I use often is Isohunt. The Pirate Bay, mentioned above, is also pretty popular, and was the unlucky one out of a handful of different torrent websites.
This wasn’t the first time The Pirate Bay was targeted by law enforcement. On May 31, 2006, Swedish police raided the Stockholm servers of The Pirate Bay. This resulted in the servers going down for three days. It is generally assumed that the raid was supported by the Motion Picture Association of America, better known as the MPAA. Overall, the raid was a failure, seeing as it caused a increase in the popularity and usage of The Pirate Bay by a factor of two.
So the final results of the case of April 17, 2009? Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, and Carl Lundström will all be spending one year in jail, and must pay $905,000 in fines each. Appeals will be submitted, and further information will be provided at a later time.