A new chapter has been written in the File Sharing/ Peer-to-peer networking legality saga.
Pirate Bay, one of the most popular Bit-Torrent trackers, which has been going strong for 5 years, has been forced to close down after a Swedish District Court decision that found them guilty of assisting copyright infringement. Their defences were two-fold: (a) they never really hosted any of the files, but only tracked where they were hosted. (b) Even Google and other search engines provide direct access to illegal .torrent files, so there was nothing specially illegal about what they did -- which is, maintain a sophisticated tracker that leads users to where the .torrent files are hosted.
In the aftermath of the verdict, several private BitTorrent trackers including Nordicbits, Powerbits, Piratebits, MP3nerds and Wolfbits, have closed down in what could be the greatest voluntary tracker collapse ever.
The MPAA had claimed damages of $15 Mn against Pirate Bay but the awarded damages were much lower, though substantial. In a parallel suit, the MPAA has won $110 Mn from TorrentSpy, another .torrent tracker site, in a US federal court.
I am now waiting to see if the MPAA also, having tasted blood, goes behind Google.