Pirates in trouble, the file-sharing kind

Pirate Bay's first server is exhibited at the Technical Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.

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KAI RYSSDAL: Pirates made the headlines once again today. A different kind of pirate this time, though. Today in Sweden a judge found the four operators of a file-sharing Web site guilty of copyright infringement. They're looking at $3.5 million dollars in fines and a year in jail -- apiece. But it's not like they were trying to hide what they were doing. The name of the site was The Pirate Bay. So lack of subtlety aside, Marketplace's Rico Gagliano reports that despite today's verdict, illegal downloads are probably going to live on.


Rico Gagliano: Think of Pirate Bay as the Google of black-market media. Instead of helping you find, say, recipes online, it helps you find pirated movies, music or game downloads. The folks running the site say they don't actually provide the illegal files. But with today's verdict, Sweden said that doesn't matter. And the entertainment industry couldn't be happier.

Raul Vazquez: I think this is an extremely fantastic sentence.

Raul Vazquez is with The International Federation of Phonographic Industries. Their Swedish branch helped bring the suit against Pirate Bay.

VAZQUEZ: Hopefully it will serve as a deterrent to all the people distributing illegal files, or actually setting up sites to point to links with illegal files.

But will it? Brian Cooley, of Cnet.com, says Pirate Bay may be the biggest of the so-called "torrent-tracking" sites, but it wouldn't be the last.

Brian Cooley: This is like trying to squeeze a balloon. Take the air out of one part of it, it's just going to move to the other part. Because what they're doing is not hosting movies -- they basically have maps to help you get to movies that are stored on hundreds of thousands of computers all over the Internet. It's not that hard to set up another one of these.

For now, no one has to. Pirate Bay is still up while the four defendants appeal today's verdict. They're confident Swedish law favors them over the entertainment industry. In an online press conference today, co-founder Peter Sunde compared his crew to the hero of "The Karate Kid."

COOLEY: Where, you know, in the beginning there's this -- the bullies -- that are bullying Daniel-san. He gets beaten up, and that's where we're at right now.

But as anyone who's downloaded the film knows, the little guy wins in the end.

In Los Angeles, I'm Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.

About the author

Rico Gagliano is the host of Dinner Party Download.

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