Charge Dropped Against Pirate Bay Four

A Swedish prosecutor on Tuesday dropped a charge levied against four men on trial for running The Pirate Bay, one of the most popular BitTorrent search engines and trackers on the Internet.

Tuesday's proceedings saw Swedish prosecutor Håkan Roswall drop a charge of aiding in the making of copies of works under copyright, said Peter Sunde, one of the four on trial. The charge was dropped due to the inability of the prosecution to prove copies of content were made, he said.

"We have definitely won this round," Sunde said.

One charge -- essentially aiding the making of material under copyright available -- remains. Sunde and the other three defendants, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Carl Lundström, could face prison time. Swedish authorities want them to forfeit 1.2 million Swedish kronor (US$140,000) in advertising revenue generated from the site.

A lawyer for the music industry, Peter Danowsky, denied that dropping the charge hurt the overall case.

"It's a largely technical issue that changes nothing in terms of our compensation claims and has no bearing whatsoever on the main case against The Pirate Bay," Danowsky said in a statement published by The Local, a Swedish newspaper published in English. "In fact it simplifies the prosecutor's case by allowing him to focus on the main issue, which is the making available of copyrighted works," he said in a statement.

The Motion Picture Association is seeking 93 million Swedish kronor in damages, and the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) is seeking €1.6 million (US$2.06 million) in damages.

Evidence presented by Roswall on Tuesday included screenshots showing computers were connected to The Pirate Bay's tracker, or software that coordinates P-to-P (peer-to-peer) file sharing.

But a majority of the screenshots show that The Pirate Bay was actually down at the time and that the client connections timed out, Sunde said. The clients, or peers, were still connecting with each other, but through a distributed hash table, another protocol for coordinating downloads unrelated to The Pirate Bay.

The schedule for Wednesday includes testimony from a Swedish antipiracy agency as well as the Motion Picture Association, Sunde said.

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