One of most high-profile trials over copyright infringement in years began today in Sweden. Four men behind The Pirate Bay website – which enables people to find others willing to share audio, video, games and other files with them – appeared in court in Stockholm to answer the charge that they had assisted in copyright infringement.
The film, music and games industries are saying that the defendants not only encouraged copyright infringement but also profited from it, while the defendants argue that they hosted no shared files and therefore are not responsible for infringement.
The Pirate Bay is a "torrent" tracker, which uses the peer-to-peer file sharing technology called BitTorrent. Trackers don't host the music, video or software files themselves, but allow users to search for and download "torrent" files. Those in turn allow users to find other people who have the file they want, and to share the files amongst themselves. Each BitTorrent user with a copy of the file contributes a piece to others who are downloading it.