This year, The Pirate Bay celebrates its 10th anniversary. Many of us have used the site at one time or other. Sunde has spent nearly a third of his life keeping it alive. He's developed the reputation of a provocateur. For nearly a decade he's been arguing against what he perceives as Hollywood's unjust monopoly on entertainment distribution, and for freeing the Internet from the shackles of the copyright industry. Two years ago, he lost. The Swedish royal court sentenced him and his three accomplices to jail and fined them 46 million Swedish kronor, roughly $7 million, in damages.
We are in Malmö to ask Sunde a very simple question: how does that make him feel? He has promised to give us an answer.
But first: Lunch. Our next stop is the all-vegan Chinese restaurant around the corner. "The owner runs a religious cult. They're insane, but the food is really good," Sunde tells us. A few minutes later he's tucking into a plate of Sichuan tofu and vegetable spring rolls. Between mouthfuls, we talk about Gottfrid "Anakata" Svartholm Warg and Fredrik "Tiamo" Neij, two of his co-defendants in the case.
The verdict handed down in November 2010 marked the end of one of the most talked-about court cases in the history of the Internet. The story of the Swedish pirates who gave Hollywood the finger transformed Sunde, Svartholm Warg and Neij into superstars. They travelled the world, and were photographed for glossy magazines. ("Pirates of the Multiplex" was the headline on a 2007 feature in Vanity Fair, that included pictures of Gottfrid and Fredrik, posing like rock stars next to the Pirate Bay servers.) The group enraged the film industry with cocky and profane retorts to a constant barrage of cease-and-desist-letters.
Sometimes, the three men were made out as villains and crooks; other times as heroes. But they were always seen as a tight-knit group of close friends, firmly set on changing the world. Nothing, Sunde says, could be farther from the truth. In reality, they hated each other: "We could hardly be in the same room together. Except when we worked on The Pirate Bay. Then everything sort of clicked into place," he says.
Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi was born in 1978 in the small Swedish town of Uddevalla. His mother worked as a staff consultant for a large company, his father as a travelling mechanic. His brother, Mats Kolmisoppi, is today an award-winning poet and author. His parents divorced when he was eight years old, and he moved to Norway with his mother and brother.