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Pirate Bay hit with legal action

31 January 08 18:22 GMT

Four men who run one of the most popular file-sharing sites in the world have been charged with conspiracy to break copyright law in Sweden.

The Pirate Bay's servers do not store copyrighted material but offer links to the download location of films, TV programmes, albums and software.

The website is said to have between 10 and 15 million users around the world and is supported by online advertising.

Police seized computers in May 2006, temporarily shutting down the website.

Prosecutor Hakan Roswall said the website was commercially exploiting copyright-protected work because it was financed through advertising revenues.

According to the Pirate Bay website, its users are currently downloading close to a million files.

On the site, a statement says: "In case we lose the pending trial (yeah right) there will still not be any changes to the site.

" The Pirate Bay will keep operating just as always. We've been here for years and we will be here many more."

In an interview with the BBC's technology programme Click last year Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde said: "I think it's okay to copy. They get their money from so many places that the sales is just one small part."

The other three men facing charges are Carl Lundstrom, Frederik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg.

If convicted, the four men could face a maximum of two years in prison.

The charges relate to 20 music files, nine film files and four computer game files.

In the indictment, Mr Roswall said the four should pay damages of 1.2 million kronor (£90,000), the minimum amount the men profited from the illegal activity, according to the prosecution.

Plaintiffs in the case include Warner, MGM, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox Films, Sony BMG, Universal and EMI.

John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of global music body, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries, said: "The operators of The Pirate Bay have always been interested in making money, not music.

"The Pirate Bay has managed to make Sweden, normally the most law abiding of EU countries, look like a piracy haven with intellectual property laws on a par with Russia."

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