Pirate Bay Verdict Gives Urgency to Italian Case

Italian antipiracy campaigners have welcomed the recent Stockholm court verdict on the founders of The Pirate Bay Web site, saying it should clear the way for a similar case under the Italian justice system.

By Philip Willan
Wed, April 29, 2009

IDG News Service — Italian antipiracy campaigners have welcomed the recent Stockholm court verdict on the founders of The Pirate Bay Web site, saying it should clear the way for a similar case under the Italian justice system.

The Swedish court on April 17 sentenced the four founders of the torrent-tracking Web site -- Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, Fredrick Neij, Carl Lundstrom and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg -- to one year in prison and a US$3.6 million fine for assisting copyright infringement.

"An acquittal in Sweden could have created difficulties for the Italian prosecution. The guilty verdict will strengthen the hand of the prosecutor in Italy," Enzo Mazza, president of the Italian Music Industry Federation (FIMI), said in a telephone interview.

Giancarlo Mancusi, a public prosecutor in the northern town of Bergamo, is investigating The Pirate Bay's founders for alleged violations of Italy's copyright law, the first justice authority to take action against the Swedish Web site outside its home territory. The Pirate Bay hosts torrent files that enable its more than 22 million users to locate music, movies and software on third-party uploaders' computers.

Mancusi obtained a court order in August 2008 blocking access from Italian ISPs to all Pirate Bay addresses, but the ban was lifted on appeal two months later.

The validity of the blocking order is due to be considered in September by the Court of Cassation, Italy's top appeal court, Mazza said. The FIMI president said he expected the prosecutor to seek a trial of The Pirate Bay founders at around the same time, and he was confident he would be able to secure a conviction.

"The charge is the same as the one in Sweden, so one can be optimistic about obtaining a similar verdict in Italy," Mazza said. "The courts have already confirmed that they have jurisdiction and that Italian law has been violated. The problem is always that of achieving effective enforcement, but it's becoming increasingly hard for copyright violators to find a safe haven."

The Bergamo appeal court that lifted the block on access to The Pirate Bay via Italian ISPs also acknowledged that there was a possible valid case that Italian law had been violated by the Swedish Web site. In a ruling published in October 2008, the court said the finance police had presented evidence that the Web site had received hundreds of thousands of contacts from computers located in Italy and that those contacts "must be reasonably related, at least for a significant part, to the acquisition over the Internet of items protected by copyright in breach of the applicable laws."

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