The Pirate Bay's Peter Sunde: 'They can't take my soul'

Peter Sunde was the poster boy for the file sharing movement, then he was sentenced to eight months prison and fined millions of dollars

By Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson, IDG News Service |  IT Management, copyright, The Pirate Bay

Perhaps there are other explanations, too. The damages that Sunde owes the music and film industries make it difficult for him to settle down. He can't buy an apartment or a car, as they would immediately be seized by the authorities to pay off his debt. "Only in Sweden though," Sunde says, but doesn't elaborate.

With interest, Sunde and his co-defendants today owe more than 75 million Swedish kronor, roughly $11 million. The debt is shared "in solidarity" -- yes, that's the actual legal term -- between them. That means the authorities will take the money wherever they can, even if all of it is from one person.

Sunde shrugs when our conversation moves to his debt. "I don't believe in the American dream anyway, becoming a billionaire and buying expensive cars. Most people in my world are still paying off their tuition fees. In a way, owing a hundred million is easier than a hundred thousand, because you stop imagining that you will ever be able to pay the money back," he says. "I actually feel kind of liberated. I can never become a wage slave."

During the trial, e-mail correspondence that was brought forward by the prosecution indicate that The Pirate Bay could have taken in millions of dollars in advertising revenue each year. But Sunde, Svartholm Warg and Neij all insist they hardly made a dollar. Whatever money came in was immediately spent on server maintenance and bandwith, they say.

It's a difficult claim to swallow. The Pirate Bay was, and still is, one of the most visited websites in the world. It's also plastered with ads, which someone presumably is paying good money for. But the fact is that nobody has been able to find any money to speak of. Even the prosecutor, Håkan Roswall, only claimed a total of 1.2 million Swedish kronor, about $190,000, in court. That's peanuts, considering the traffic volumes that pour through The Pirate Bay each day.

The defendants haven't exactly been forthcoming either. Lundström declared himself bankrupt in summer 2012. Svartholm Warg left Sweden for Cambodia and Neij moved to Laos, both hoping to escape the Swedish authorities. Is Sunde too planning a sudden move abroad? He won't give a straight answer. "I have no intention of changing my life for this," he says.

What he will talk about however, at great length, are the injustices he says have plagued the Pirate Bay trial from the start. He speaks of judges who spend time with copyright lobbyists, and the policeman who investigated The Pirate Bay and was then given a job with Warner Brothers. He points to the damages claimed by the prosecution that were based on calculations seemingly plucked from thin air. "In a perfect world, the European court of Justice would put them all in jail," he says.

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