Pirates Buoyant Despite Damages Claim

The Four men behind the Swedish file-sharing web site ”The Pirate Bay” are facing millions of dollars in compensation claims from a group of top Hollywood film and music production houses  for being accessories to breaking copyright law.

The men, three Swedes and a Finnn, set up The Pirate Bay in 2004, allowing 10 to 15 million users to share films, music and other copyright - protected material.

Plaintiffs in the case, which was presented before Stockholm District Court on Monday, include Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., MGM Pictures Inc., Colombia Pictures Industries Inc., 20th Century Fox Films Co., Sony BMG, Universal and EMI.

They’re demanding the equivalent of 2.56 million US dollars in damages for promoting illegal use of their material, including film, music and computer games.

The case stems from a May 2006 crackdown on illegal file-sharing that temporarily shut down the site. Upon reopening, the site’s number of visitors doubled, the increased popularity attributed to greater exposure through the media coverage.

The four suspects, three from Sweden and one from Finland, were charged with both accessory and conspiracy to break Swedish copyright law. If convicted, they face a maximum of two years in prison.

Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde, who was among those charged, told the Associated Press he thought the claims suitable for a good April fools joke, and said they should actually get paid by the companies for promoting their material.

”It is completely unreasonable how they have counted. We should get paid by them. All research in this area shows that they actually profit by file-sharing,” he said, pointing to supposed extra promotion.