Sweden has grown to become the focal point of online distribution. As the home country of The Pirate Bay, a BitTorrent tracker that has grown into something of a cultural phenomenon, it has gained a reputation that it may not be particularly fond of. With millions of dedicated users, The Pirate Bay remains a thorn in the side of the entertainment industry, which has been unable to successfully disrupt this massive operation.
That doesn't mean attempts to destroy The Pirate Bay's operation haven't been tried. Throughout its lengthy history, numerous legal threats, letters from the MPAA to the Swedish government, and most importantly, the temporary shutdown in May 2006, have all failed to permanently deter The Pirate Bay. If anything, the failure to pull the plug on The Pirate Bay has only emboldened their operation. Just last week, The Pirate Bay opened up "Oscartorrents", a BitTorrent website dedicated to Oscar nominated films. This has not gone unnoticed in the eyes of the entertainment industry.
The IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) specifically names The Pirate Bay, among other distribution methods, in its 2007 "Special 301 Report." The report focuses squarely on Sweden as a “Safe Haven” for piracy, as the report states a lack of past effective copyright enforcement has helped fuel the current situation.
“Sweden also is the host country to ThePirateBay.org, the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker and one of Sweden’s largest web sites. The site has over 785,000 registered users, between 1.7 and 1.9 million peers, with 120,000 indexed torrents. Operators of the site proudly flaunt their role in facilitating infringements, often taking pot shots at rights holders from whom they receive notices of infringing activity. ThePirateBay was raided in mid-2006 by the Swedish police, and although the site is back up and running, it is expected that its prosecution will take place in the middle of 2007.”
The report paints a grim picture for copyright enforcement in Sweden. It consistently notes that despite international pressure, local police and prosecutors are reluctant to enforce intellectual property rights.
“The police take no ex officio action at all, even though they have the authority to do so. MPA reports that about 150 police reports have been filed against filesharers in Sweden, and of those, only eight have gone to trial so far - seven were convicted and one acquitted. These few notable exceptions of concrete action also resulted in public backlash.”
To get a handle on this increasingly dire situation, it appears the cavalry is being called in. Perhaps in preparation for a “middle of 2007” prosecution against The Pirate Bay, a new anti-piracy unit will finally be created in early 2007. According to the IFPI, the FBI, MPA and AntiPiratByran have taken on the task of training this new unit.
“The FBI, MPA, and AntiPiratByran (the umbrella organization for anti-piracy operations carried out on behalf of the film and games industries) participated in a training seminar for police on January 24, 2007. APB has continuously pressed for a special copyright unit to be created within law enforcement. This unit will be established in early 2007 and a special training will be provided on source piracy. The industries plan additional training and educational work with police officers and prosecutors in 2007.”
Considering The Pirate Bay’s geographical distribution, it may be tough to fully dismantle this organization. It seems they may be feeling the heat however, as they have recently been interested in buying Sealand and other offshore commodities. But is The Pirate Bay worried?
"Nope. We still haven't done anything illegal, no matter what the Americans think about us," Peter from The Pirate Bay told Slyck.com.