The most serious charges against Sweedish file-sharing site the Pirate Bay have been dropped on the second day of the case, after it emerged the prosecution could not prove that illegal downloaders had used the site to distribute media.
The trial against the four owners of the site, who were initially charged with facilitating and aiding copyright infringement, began yesterday. The Sweedish authority were compensation from the four, along with the Motion Picture Association and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
Lawyers defending the Pirate Bay owners claimed prosecutor Håkan Roswall did not understand the technology and could not prove the site was implicated in the illegal distribution of files. This resulted in any charges of 'assisting copyright infringement' being dropped and being replaced with charges of 'assisting making available copyrighted content', which carries lesser penalties.
The site never hosted content but instead indexed files available on peer-to-peer filesharing tool BitTorrent. Users searched for the files they wanted through the Pirate Bay and were then downloaded direct from the machine the file was stored on.
"It is very rare to win half the target in just one and a half days, and it is clear that the prosecutor took strong note of what we said yesterday," said Per Samuelson, a lawyer representing the defence.
Peter Danowsky, legal counsel for the music companies that brought the case, said: "It changes nothing in terms of our compensation claims and has no bearing whatsoever on the main case against The Pirate Bay. 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".