Pirate Bay May Sail Away, Scot Free

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Two days into The Pirate Bay trial, it looks as though the file-sharing site may come away victorious, despite many odds. Half of the charges brought against the bit torrent file sharing Web site have been dropped. Gone are the charges that The Pirate Bay has assisted in copyright infringement; now all that's left are claims of "assisting making available" bit torrents for illegal download.

Prosecutors cannot use .torrent files as evidence against The Pirate Bay, as it was ruled that many of the screenshots used in the trial offered no clear correlation between the Web site and illegal activity. This blasted a hole in the prosecution and it had to withdraw all complaints regarding copyright infringement.

But the trial isn't over yet, so while supporters of the site have cause to celebrate, The Pirate Bay is still not out of stormy waters.

The major label plaintiffs--Universal, Warner Bros, MGM, EMI, 20th Century Fox, Colombia Pictures, and Sony BMG--are hungry to shut The Pirate Bay down, have claimed damages of more than $13 million. They say that "the operators of the Pirate Bay and others like them are criminals who profit handsomely by facilitating the distribution of millions of copyrighted creative works and files protected under the law."

In defiance--and as a way of celebrating the trial--The Pirate Bay has replaced its well-known logo with one of Tom Cruise and a Swedish lawyer, Monique Wadsted. The caption reads: "Mr. Cruise and Miss Wasted [sic] can't be wrong!" The alt text says, "Hollywood and aliens are of course always right."

The site's founders, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, and Fredrik Neij, and financial backer, Carl Lundstrom, said that Hollywood could sue them for as much as it wanted but warned, "we are not rich and have no money to pay. They won't get a cent."

The heftiest claims against The Pirate Bay have been struck out of court, which could encourage other file-sharing Web sites. However, "assisting making available," while it sounds weak, could bring with it serious consequences. In February, The Pirate Bay boasted 22 million simultaneous users; that would be a lot of grounded pirates.

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