Today marked the first day of the criminal copyright infringement suit against The Pirate Bay that was initiated in Sweden one year ago by Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, Sony BMG, EMI, Universal, Metro Goldwin Mayer and 20th Century Fox.
The Pirate Bay's founders, Peter Kolmisoppi, Gottfrid Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Fredrik Neij, all claimed "not guilty," and Swedish prosecutors laid down the framework of the suit. The main accusation is that The Pirate Bay was in fact a commercial site with Carl Lundstrom as chief shareholder and financier, where income was drawn from advertising.
They also accused the Pirate Bay of planning to take its operations offshore to escape Swedish copyright law. Most of the time today, however, was spent covering all of the reported copyright infringements by the Pirate Bay, discussing the ways files could be obtained by users, and discussing the May 2006 raid of the Pirate Bay servers.
Fortunately, the Pirate Party showed up in force, and participants kept a live commentary open, adding depth and emotion to what would otherwise have been a somewhat arduous first day (PDF transcript). The defendants face a possible two year imprisonment and at least $150,000 in the criminal case, and the media companies seek an additional €10 million in damages.
The trial has gained international attention because it could define the limits of what is considered criminal file sharing. According to The Pirate Party's Rick Falkvinge, "The trial against the Pirate Bay is the center of the struggle for power over common culture and knowledge in modern society. The whole world will have its eyes on Sweden in these upcoming weeks."