Pirate Bay Appeals Trial Begins in Stockholm

The appeals trial has begun against the four Swedes found guilty in the controversial Pirate Bay case - attracting huge interest both here in Sweden and broad.

Many see this as a crucial legal battle between those demanding freedom on the internet and opposition to profit-hungry distributors on one side and those insisting that musicians and film makers can't survive unless there is respect for their royalties.

Both sides have appealed the lower court decision, which found the four guilty of violating legislation against Internet file-sharing by making copyrights films, music and games available for others to download free of charge.

Swedish and global film and music distributors were not happy with what they considered far too lenient sentences. The district court sentenced each of the four to one year in prison and fines of more than 4 million US dollars.

Others regard the four as pioneering heroes - challenging what they regard as greedy global distributors of music, film, and games.

The four have said all along they didn't break any laws because their site only linked to the copyrighted files, just like a search engine. They had also challenged one of the district court judges and two at the appeals panel for conflict of interest, because of ties with the copyright lobby. Those accusations were rejected. One of the defendants says he is ill and has a doctor's certificate to justify his absence from the trial. His case is to be dealt with later while the proceedings continue for the other three.

The trial is scheduled to last for nine days, and will certainly be followed closely both here in Sweden and abroad. Meanwhile, despite the original convictions and tightened Swedish legislation cracking down on file-sharers, the Pirate Bay website continues to be more popular than ever.