The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s most popular BitTorrent indexing sites, won’t be censored in its own country — at least for now — according to a recent decision by a Swedish court.
The site, which launched in 2003, is based in Sweden. It is already censored in numerous other countries, primarily in response to allegations that it permits the illegal sharing of copyrighted materials via BitTorrent. Some countries block it entirely while in others it is censored only by particular Internet Service Providers, or ISPs.
A recent lawsuit by several music and film companies sought to extend censorship of the site to Sweden. The companies requested a court order that would have required one of Sweden’s major ISPs to block access to the site.
The court ruled, however, that the ISP could not be legally required to censor the Pirate Bay. The ISP’s “operation and conduct in the present case does not constitute participation under Swedish law,” the court said.
That means the Pirate Bay can continue to operate on its home turf for now. It’s not certain that that will remain the case, however, since there is a possibility of an appeal of the court’s decision. If the Pirate Bay is blocked in Sweden or elsewhere, affected users can still access the site using Tor or a VPN service that has servers in a country where the Pirate Bay is not censored. Although many ISPs in European countries — which traditionally form an important part of anti-censorship VPN networks — block the site, it is currently accessible from the United States.