>Support for the Pirate Party, a political party running in the European elections, has soared in the wake of last week's conviction of the four Swedish founders of the file-sharing site.
Backing for the Swedish Pirate Party has now leapfrogged that of the domestic Green Party. While it may be a blip of anger after the verdict and opinions may change come election day, almost 50 percent of young men under 30 say they intend to vote for the new faction in the June 2009 elections to the European Parliament.
Hours after the sentence, membership swelled as well, from under 15,000 to around 20,000, making the party the fifth biggest in the country and easily the most popular amongst young people.
The numbers bring the party within spitting distance of a seat in the European Parliament. To reach Sweden's 100,000 vote threshold for sending a deputy to Strasbourg, each of the party's members would just have to convince another four people to cast their ballots for the upstart political group.
Even before the verdict, the party had shown surprising strength in polls and support, having already surpassed the long-established Green and Left parties in number of active members, as earlier reported in the EUobserver.
On Friday (17 April), the Stockholm district court sentenced Fredrik Neij, Carl Lundstrom, Peter Sunde and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg to a year in prison each for the establishment and maintenance of the Pirate Bay site, which helps users find copyrighted music, film and computer programmes to download without permission.
The court also ordered them to pay 30 million kronor (€2.7 million) in damages to record labels and movie studios EMI, Columbia Pictures, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Bros.
All four men have said they intend to launch an appeal of the verdict, which takes the case before the Swedish Supreme Court, a process that is expected years to complete.
The day after the conviction, around a thousand people took to the streets of Stockholm to protest the sentence. Rallies against "judicial murder," organised by the Pirate Party also took place in Goteborg, Karlstad and Lund.
The head of the party, Rickard Falkvinge told the crowds: "The establishment and the politicians have declared war against our whole generation," he said, calling on "file-sharing for the people," according to reports from the AP.
The party, which has no official links with the Pirate Bay site or founders, has a stripped down electoral platform of only three planks: fundamentally reform copyright law, eliminate the patent system, and ensure that citizens' rights to privacy are respected.
Protests also spread online on Monday, with the website of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) - the record industry lobby group - coming under repeated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks from hackers angry at the verdict.
Though the site appears to be functioning normally today, on Monday the site was down frequently and at other times loaded extremely slowly. Pages on the site have also reportedly been defaced.
The actions appear to be part of a co-ordinated assault its perpetrators have christened "Operation Baylout," according to internet discussions, with individuals also encouraged to bombard black faxes to Monique Wadsted, a lawyer for the film industry and the offices of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).