Software Pirates Sentenced To Jail

Some will cheer, others will sympathise, but whatever your view on software piracy, this news item on the BBC news pages reports a landmark case:

A court in Sweden has jailed four men behind The Pirate Bay (TPB), the world’s most high-profile file-sharing website, in a landmark case.

To read the full story and more, visit the BBC news pages.

0 Responses

  1. I am very happy about this sentence and I agree that some justice is done but… aren’t the same kind of pirates those “publishers” that dare to sell some real crap that they call addons? Just give a look to those pictures of recent products on Simmarket, they dare to ask 9-15 Euros for some products that are looking much worst than any freeware. And there are many of these publishers-pirates around. Wouldn’t they deserve a sentence too?

  2. And yet they will manage to keep the site online ;))

    And of course they won’t go to jail…..there is the Appeal!!

  3. @ alberto: what are you talking about? we are going to jail because we are offering products on simmarket? we are ‘publishers-pirates’? live on in your dream world….

  4. So when are we going to come down on the developers who also pirate? Seems we have no problem giving money to them, providing publishing and distribution opportunities for them, even defending them behind a wall of silence whenever the ugly subject of piracy is raised..?

    When are we going to decimate this hobby because no-one – no-one – is truly `innocent`..? And – if the TPB `pirates` are truly that, then obviously Alberto actually raises a very good point – so would ANY publisher who distributes product from these pirates.

    Does the expression “Throwing the baby out with the bathwater” not mean anything to anybody?

    Bless you all in your naivety. the Pirate Bat court case has nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with piracy and accountability, just everything to do with PR and the exercise of futile control by large corporations that are losing their grip and their business on a market they have monopolised, plundered, blackmailed and fleeced for about fifty years.

    …and I’m not talking about the piddling little flight simulation market, where the piracy issue is almost inconsequential in fiscal terms.

  5. nothing – to do with piracy and accountability???
    that is funny..i didn’t give my product to them to release for free……if is not piracy…pleaseeee don’t write stupid stuff.

    pirate bays has advertising banners so they make profit so they are pirates….just tired to see some justifyng them…if you produce software and all your earns go dow because of them and your family suffer for this you will not justify them. Hope they will go all on jail and all their activies go down…but i know that it’s strictly impossible. There is not anymore justice in the world for people making illegal action on the web. All people downloading from them make illegal action …it’s all….so avoid to find excused for pirate bay and downloaders..please and avoid to give other people works…give yours if you able to make something of interest.
    When copyright will not exist anymore perhaps will not be illegal bytheway if you product something you have all right to distribute only with payments and not have seen on pirate bay to have them earns with banners

  6. I still think that MANY publisher / distributor should be very HAPPYthat there is piracy, otherwise some product would not even get used.

    One example for me is Office….if it wasn’t for piracy it probably would not be the standard office suite!

    But even small publisher get a lot of consideration THANKS to “piracy” and they should be aware that without it theyr product may even not get noticed by the public.

    No i am not pro Piracy, i am pro choice and freedom, and that’s what TPB is all about!

  7. Hi.

    This actually means that Google should be closed too and the people behind should serve prison time. As far as I have read in the danish news, the people behind thepiratebay has be found guilty in linking to illegal software, movies etc. If you search on Google on FSX and torrent, then google will generate the same results as the thepiratebay.

    Just a little comment.

    Regards Morten.

  8. It’s still the USER who is the one who steals intellectual property, not those who run a torrent search engine. So in my humble opinion, the wrong guys got punished. It’s just easier for the music industry to go after Piratebay than after the user.

    What has happened here is like jailing gunmakers, not killers.

  9. Isn’t it fun to watch these debates?

    The laws on SW piracy are quite clear – and very similar to any other criminal law. Stealing is a crime (cracking registration codes). Using stolen products is a crime (using cracked software). Making stolen products available for others to use is a crime (Fencing jewels or cracked software – no difference).

    There is no relationship there to gun makers. Smith and Wesson don’t make or sell Colts or Rugers or Glocks, do they?

    Or in a sixties flavour: Smoking a joint is a crime – and so is selling a joint.

    The right people landed in court here. They were distributing someone else’s (stolen or cracked) IP without permission. These laws have been in existence since old man Moses was given some stone tablets – and even before.

    Oh… Google and Piracy? You can bet your bottom dollar that they have got their lawyers on the ball and that their terms of use are clean.

    Oh… MSWord is only successful because of piracy? Balderdash! It is the definitive office product bar none. It took over from Wordperfect almost 20 years ago. And yes, there are freeware office products that can save and read MS .doc files – quite legally.

    More to the point, the big software makers realise that some people need the best software but are rather short on cash. That’s why you can buy student licences and even outdated versions of such programs at a fraction of the cost.

    Quote: “It’s just easier for the music industry to go after Piratebay than after the user” Very true – and it also blocks a whole lot of potential “criminals”. That’s why govenrments DO put more money in going for the big bosses of crime (drug barons and dealers rather than addicted users).

    Even in a liberalised world, crime is still crime

  10. While you might be right morally, Chris, legally you’re wrong. The only people breaking the law in most countries are the *uploader*, as they are the one breaching Copyright, by making available a copyrighted work without authorisation. Hence the stupid charge they were convicted of (“Abetting Breach of Copyright”? Seriously?) – of which, incidentally, they are undoubtedly guilty.

    Google are the biggest purveyor of illegal software links on the planet bar none. That’s what’s so stupid about this case. While there are many things that TPB are guilty of which Google aren’t, it’s a simple statement that Google references TPB as a small part of their search results, in amongst many others. The funniest bit about that was when the prosecution lawyer turned around and said “ah yes, but Google will work with us” – while at the same time Google say “not our problem – we only provide search results”. Doesn’t that argument sound familiar?

    The difference is actually identical to the firearms industry. Guns don’t kill people – people do. Guns also, in many parts of the world, have a very useful role to fulfil. So does Google – its finding of illegal software is part of the entirely legal trawl of the internet for what people are looking for. It, unlike TPB, was not set up for the express purpose of finding and distributing illegal software.

    Using illegal software is prosecuted under fraud, not Copyright law. Amusingly, fraud is criminal law, where breach of copyright isn’t. I do wish people would use fraud more as the penalties are far more harsh, but as can be seen from every case so far, even the weight of the RIAA, MPAA and a lot of very expensive lawyers have failed to convict a single person of theft. Using illegal software or breaching copyright by distributing it is still not, and will never be, theft. Fact. Not open to debate.

    If you fence stolen goods – or receive stolen goods – you are permanently depriving the owner of them. That’s why it’s criminal law. If someone copies your software and distributes it illegally, you still have the original software to sell your own copies to honest people. Hence it’s not permanently depriving the rightful owner of their property and therefore not theft.

    The copyright laws need changing and making relevant, they’re just an almighty mess right now. That doesn’t mean you can pick a different one to apply just because you want to, though.

  11. Well… seeing as how these gentlemen were sentenced to jail, then a crime was committed. I did use the words “similar to any other criminal law” and not “criminal law”. Therefore the act of cracking software, using it and distributing it is an offense under the appropriat law. Some countries apparently do treat this as criminal law, so the four named gents were “jailed” even if they might not serve the (full) sentence.

    I did read the full article though. Very informative. Remember this took place in Sweden. I doubt very much the BBC got its facts wrong. So I have done noe picking of the facts to suit a statement.

    Remember too, “Innocent until proven guilty” was also observed and an appointed judge has declared the four guilty. So for now it is right for the press to “name and shame”.

    Also – speaking as devil’s advocate – once someone makes your software available to someone else, you might find that your license has been breached and that you no longer have the right to use that software. You could say that letting someone steal your pass codes was an act of neglect. So by your negligence, you forfeit the right to that license. Therefore in stealing and fencing “your license” the perpetrator has in fact permanently deprived the owner of legal use of his software.

    I am not saying I am right and know this for a fact. I am just offering another viewpoint that a legal person might consider.

    There is still no connection with guns, gun makers and murderers. The weaponsmith is not committing any crime just by making a gun. Semantically speaking, it is the “pointed bit” of the ammunition that does the final killing, not even the exposive propellant charge in the cartridge. Unless the victim was clubbed to death with the gun or fatally wounded by slipping on a pile of empty shell cases…

    But this forum is not for discussing people running amok and killing other people at a school in whatever country. The thread was raised to discuss illegal use of copyright and IP.

    And it is still interesting to see the reactions to an appointed judge declaring four people to be guilty of an offense (or even offence). The verdict may be tipped one day. But for now a landmark verdict has been passed down. A wrong has been (temporarily) righted.

  12. And this is the mistake you make in your argumentation: No wrong has been righted, a wrong has been made.

    Once again: Piratebay doesn’t crack, host or distribute cracked software. They never did. They offer a search engine for torrents. Torrents are a perfectly legal way to spread software. If I want to distribute a piece of music that I made under the creative commons license, I would offer it with a torrent – in addition to placing it on sites like

    If you run a torrent tracker, you have no means whatsoever to control what is offered as torrent by others. You just make the torrent known. You could filter it, but is this really your job? And will filtering help you if you miss some illegal files? I’d bet: No.

    What has happened was an attempt to cut down freedom of information. Just think about it for a second: what happens when information about illegal things becomes illegal, too?

    BTW, If you don’t like my analogy with guns, what about this one: Do you hold your telephone provider responsible for obscenities that are spoken to you by someone who calls you?

    The REAL ciminals are those who create the torrents, not those who make them searchable. THEY should be prosecuted. THEY ruin businesses, THEY spit on intellectual property.

    What Piratebay does might not be something I consider moral, I don’t consider it to be a crime, either. As I said, the criminals are others.

  13. Well said Bernhard.
    Debate one is that no matter what your views on piracy you can’t deny that the guys at TPB were by no means guilty. Innocent people often go to jail, contrary to what Eagleskinner will have you believe.

    Debate Two is the moral issue of piracy. Frankly considering some of the garbage people try to sell on simmarket and elsewhere it doesn’t surprise me that people turn to piracy.

    Personally, I would encourage people to pirate my work (if i were ever to release something as payware), as it only increases the exposure of it in the FS community. And I certainly wouldn’t try and sell what I’ve made unless it was actually worth the consumer buying.

  14. So you would encourage someone to pirate your payware would you ? So why release as payware in the first place ?
    The argument that it increases exposure means you will have no revenue because everyone will have pirated your software, making it a pointless exercise in the first place.(Doh)

    As far as Pirate Bay are concerned, they have knowingly handled stolen goods…their own statements, plus the word “Pirate” in their website title make it pretty obvious. The argument that Google etc are guilty of the same crime as the Pirates doesn’t hold..(it’s not worth explaining the legal reasons..obviously some people here just don’t understand or give a damn about the law).

    If you’ve got a beef about publishers selling goods that are not (in your opinion) worth the money, then you have the option not to buy it..surely ? If that company has mis – advertised their product, or it is “not of merchantable quality”, then you have a legal come back.

    Freedom of choice was mentioned as an excuse for pirating…how does that argument stand up ??? Well.. yes you have the freedom of choice to break the law or not…..if you’re man enough to take the consequences.

    The bottom line is that if software is continually pirated, then companies will go bust, authors will not bother even producing freeware, (yes freeware CAN be pirated..) and it will all end.

    But then you people just don’t care about you ?

  15. that should keep the debate cooking on a fast simmer for a while longer…

  16. Vertigo: What law are TPB breaking that Google are not? It’s very worth you explaining the legal reasons, if your intent is to explain to people why what they are doing or thinking is wrong. Right now, I’m calling your bluff, I don’t think you truthfully know of a single legal difference.

    The comparison is particularly apt, seeing as one of the top results in any Google search for software, film or music titles is a link to TPB – normally within the top three. Google actually profits from searches for illegal software, which in any rule book is worse than making it available with no recompense for doing so. If they care so much about it and “their lawyers are on top of it”, why are they so easily proven guilty, by any person with a web browser, of exactly the same charge that the three people in Sweden have been convicted of? A cynic would say that Google, unlike a small group of private citizens, has the resources and funding to fight back. Also, killing Google, the world’s darling, would be a total PR disaster for whoever did it.

    One of the big issues with this whole debate right now is that the companies screaming the most and the loudest about it are the ones who are in no danger of going bust whatsoever. Remember, VHS killed Hollywood. Tape cassettes killed radio and popular music. I mean they did, didn’t they? No way could EMI, or Sony BMG, or Universal, have possibly posted massive profits last year, in the face of an economic disaster, because they went bust in the mid 80s. Didn’t they?

    Lowering the sarcasm a lot, all this debate is doing is consistently proving my point that the current law isn’t working. The smaller companies, the people who WILL go bust, cannot afford to pay for court costs in cases they probably won’t win, in foreign countries and jurisdictions. Even if they could, the chances are that what they get back won’t cover the costs involved.

    You can cry foul as often as you like, but you won’t change anything. That’s proven time and time again on this topic. You have to actually do something to remedy the situation.

    The question is, what, exactly?

  17. Eagleskinner says:
    Quote “April 21st, 2009 at 15:22
    Isn’t it fun to watch these debates?

    The laws on SW piracy are quite clear – and very similar to any other criminal law. Stealing is a crime (cracking registration codes). Using stolen products is a crime (using cracked software). Making stolen products available for others to use is a crime (Fencing jewels or cracked software – no difference).

    There is no relationship there to gun makers. Smith and Wesson don’t make or sell Colts or Rugers or Glocks, do they?”

    Now TPB guys don’t SEED…so what makes them any diferent from . Smith and Wesson??

    As someone pointed out… Google is doing the same thing…Yahoo as well Microsoft Live or ANY other search engine…because guess what?? they search!

    Ttry any search with torrent…and you ll see pleny of links…is that a good thing?? may be not…. should google go to jail?? of course NOT.

    I am sure everyone who is against piracy has a copied DVD or a CD or even a TAPE…yes remember thoose tape you had in your Walkman??? yes that was stealing too and everyone did it…. so we should all go to jail every single one of us.

  18. Quote “Vertigo says:
    April 24th, 2009 at 4:15
    So you would encourage someone to pirate your payware would you ? So why release as payware in the first place ?
    The argument that it increases exposure means you will have no revenue because everyone will have pirated your software, making it a pointless exercise in the first place.(Doh)”

    Again ..not is proven that many people who dload a pirated copy of a product do it for different reason:
    1 somone just steal
    2 some use the ….”try before you buy”….yes DEMO sometimes are too limited especially for add on that cost 60 or 70 $
    3 Some people do not have the money right in…. so they will buy the licence later….

    Now you can pretend that that’s not true all you want.. but once again if i had a small sw that bno one knew… i’d rather have it pirated and sell few copies (at least i’ d have a future userr base) …than sell 0 copies and 0 pirated copies…..and loose 100% of my work.

  19. I’ll bite Drew…

    Tape recorders, cassette recorders, video recorders, and even CD and DVD recorders all have one thing in common – the manufacturers thereof pay a small fee to the recording arts industries so that making copies of music tapes, cassettes, etc. for private use was (is) legal.

    “Now TPB guys don’t SEED” – sorry, that is a term I do not understand. BUT there will always be a BIG difference between a legally operating weapons manufacturer and ANY illegally operating business. TPB does not make anything. They “coordinate people across the world so that these can share what they own”

    So in that respect only can I understand why a jail sentence is harsh.


    So TPB is actively aiding and abetting users of illegally acquired software to share said software – and by inference TPB actively share the crime.

    You could say that of the ISPs and the telephone or cable operators – they aid the “criminal” too. And if it were not for the fact that ISPs and others do actively make major efforts to aid the legal systems in preventing illegal activity, then maybe those readers here standing “for” TPB could have a small case. The thing about high publicity sites like TPB is that perhaps they think they are doing good. But by not actively doing everything in their power to prevent misuse, then they are on the wrong side.

    As the judge said – they were in it for the money. So if they had spent some of it on prevention, then I don’t think we would be debating TPB so vociferously right now.

    Now some commentators here have criticised my stand and said things like TPB committed no crime under criminal law and that I am “talking out of my hat”. Let’s just simplify matters significantly.

    People who legally own a software have to agree to use it according to the LICENCE. (Yes, in most cases they do not own the software – merely a licence to use). The programmer has (C) and/or IP rights on the code. After all – programming is very personal and you will find that each programmer may use different routes to produce the same end result. (Word perfect and MS Word, Excel or access or outlook and Lotus – or whatever, because I never used Lotus)

    Now I repeat. Cracking, hacking, torrenting, sharing and all other uses of a software against the terms of the licence are NOT ALLOWED! Whether this is in contravention of a criminal or a civil law is totally irrelevant because the offence is an offence and due punishment is RIGHT.

    So I say again – ANYONE aiding and abetting those who are guilty of cracking, hacking, torrenting, sharing and all other uses of a software against the terms of the licence…


    You can argue yourselves blue in the face about the semantics of the various statements that are presented by those readers here from the “right side of the law” but as long as we live in the current prevailing societies and morals, then a “wrongdoing” remains as such.

    Search engines? Read the small print carefully before you try swimming with your arms tied. They have paid legal people good money. They have probably got a legal case for their actions.

    Now there is still one stone left slightly unturned the “petty” end of the crimes, i.e. those who use a trial license beyond the trial period, or those who are poor and driven by peer group pressure to “own” an item…

    There are still chapters in the law books of most (maybe all?) legal systems that have a certain light look at petty crime. It is still crime, but the pursuance is not worth the effort. Petty crimes may even remain unpunished, but they remain wrong. I guess companies like Adobe know full well that more people use Photoshop than actually own it. If they wanted to, they could round up all the flightsim artists and do some recouping – and they would have a field day. But the costs might just stay their decision – for now. At most, they might expect to slap a couple of hundred C and D orders on users.

    Occasionally big software houses have even issued amnesty licenses.

    And finally your last lines Drew: “but once again if i had a small sw that bno one knew… i’d rather have it pirated and sell few copies (at least i’ d have a future userr base) …than sell 0 copies and 0 pirated copies…..and loose 100% of my work.”

    If you are a developer who makes no sales then ask yourself why (is it really that good? It could be just total garbage that not even a hacker would touch with your PC). And if you are happy to let it be copied, then you write that into the licence and maybe distribute that software as donationware.

    Keep debating folks

  20. “Seeding” is the term used to describe making files available to upload on a Peer-to-Peer or Torrent system, Chris. It is the act of actually making the file available to download – Drew is quite correct in that a search engine hosts none of the shared content on their own servers, only links. This is why, on day one of the trial, the prosecution dropped charges of Breach of Copyright against TPB. There was no breach of copyright taking place specifically by TPB and thus no case to answer on that count.

    The retention of copyrighted material you do not own on VHS or audio cassette is not legal either. Technically, you are only allowed to retain it for a short period of time (it’s pretty short in most countries – about a month) before deleting it to stay legal. This is the biggest reason why almost everyone in the Western world is guilty of breach of copyright at this time, because everyone knows full well that this is both unenforable and, to be honest, pretty silly to try and do so. Yet that’s actually the law.

    Your reasoning above is terrible. According to your principle, every time a crime takes place, the entire world is “aiding” the criminal. Shall we prosecute the local council for providing the roads the criminal drove on? The petrol station for providing them with the petrol to drive to the scene of the crime? The local supermarket for providing them with food? The hardware shop for selling them the tools used to break down the door? That’s what you’re doing by saying that search engines and ISPs are liable for their subscriber’s actions (which are, incidentally, almost always in breach of T&Cs of use for both).

    Your argument is that the small print on Google says “don’t be naughty with our search engine and we can’t be held liable if you do”. According to this case in Sweden, oh yes they can be held liable. Again, your argument doesn’t stand up. All TPB do is not bother pretending they care, rather than putting small print that could not possibly be enforced in their T&Cs.

    Once again, only by going after the seeders/uploaders can you ever deal with this problem. When you do, the punishment needs to be realistic and not just provide another income stream for organisations that really don’t need it. Like the £20 fine being levied on anyone travelling on a train around here at the moment without a ticket – getting caught costs more than it does to stay legal, when policed properly, so more people are buying tickets rather than travelling without one. Fine people $50 or $100 for every illegal file found in the upload directory of their P2P software, rather than “Well it *could* have been downloaded three million times. We don’t know, but we’ll order you to pay $3,000,000 anyway” which ends up with the majority of public opinion having sympathy for the person breaking the law, not the person whose rights were being breached in the first place.

    How long has the saying been around: “It doesn’t only have to be fair, it also has to be SEEN to be fair.”

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