Pirate Bay Verdict Sets Precedent

News out of Sweden about the guys who run bit-torrent download site Pirate Bay being found guilty comes as little bit of a shock to me. Not so much that they were found guilty, but the fact they each received a year in jail from one of the most liberal countries in the Western World.

It is seen by some as a harsh verdict (there are already protests in Sweden), but the guilty parties can't be surprised because at the end of the day, the Pirate Bay website is the conduit by which copyright material is being distributed to third parties without the copyright holders getting a cent.

I know there are those out there who look at the huge fees actors get, and the millionaire lifestyles of musicians, as well as directors, producers etc, so you may lack empathy for their plight. However, if their rights are being taken away there is a trickle effect. If studios and musos stop making money, then they stop making music and movies, or at least the quality starts to deteriorate.

In Australia, a similar situation has arisen with ISP iiNet who is being sued by seven studios and the 7 network for not stopping illegal downloads from their customers, but there is one major difference - iiNet claims it has no idea what people are downloading, and is it their responsibility to act as Internet policemen anyway?

In reality, a lot of people do download legitimate content, but I would suggest if somebody has their computer running night after night downloading stuff I doubt they are paying for it from legitimate sources – but is it iiNet's responsibility? I don't know. It is a tricky question and one that the courts will have to decide when the trial starts in October.

What I do know is that the Swedish court case has set a precedent that will make the film and music industries very happy, and has now given them hope around the world to go ahead with prosecutions of other websites and/or ISP's who they think are downloading content illegally.

What are your thoughts on the downloading of copyright material?