The Pirate Bay quickly establised itself as the world's biggest site for finding bit-torrent downloads of music, games and films. But the file-sharing system also opens the door to illegal downloading of copyrighted material. Despite many legal challenges, Anders Rydell, the author of a book about Pirate Bay, tells Swedish Radio News that it's more popular than ever.
"Figures were presented this Spring that show that the Pirate Bay is the world's largest site for downloading. Many come and go, but Pirate Bay remains."
Why has this website become so large and popular?
"As I see it the it has satisfied a demand that has not been met by other media companies," Rydell says.
In 2009, the four founders of the site were convicted by a Swedish district court to 1 year prison terms and ordered to pay US$3.6 million in damages for copyright infringement following a police raid on the site's servers in 2006 .
A Swedish appeals court later upheld the convictions of the four defendants, reducing their prison sentences but increasing their fines. The appeals court ruled that the Pirate Bay had facilitated illegal file sharing, a decision welcomed by the entertainment industry which has been vehemently opposed the Pirate Bay over the last decade.
The site's popularity has also led to the creation in 2006 of a political party, The Pirate Party, which saw its membership rocket to 21,000 members following the Pirate Bay trial and it even gained a foothold in the EU parliament following the elections there in 2009, winning 2 seats. The party now operates in several countries.
Despite the controversies over the years, The Pirate Bay was never closed down and it continues to offer links to free music, films, games and software.