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The already-contentious trial of The Pirate Bay became even more heated Thursday, as an academic expert on the music industry testifying for the defense was hit with a fierce cross examination by entertainment lawyers. Roger Wallis , a retired professor from Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, testified that the financial losses to piracy claimed by the entertainment industries are grossly exaggerated. On Wednesday, the chief executive of the International Federation of Phonographic Industries claimed that downloaders would have purchased every music track they pirated if it weren't for file sharing services.Four defendants, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström are accused of facilitating copyright infringement by running The Pirate Bay, a BitTorrent tracker that has 22 million users. They face up to two years in prison each, in addition to fines as high as $180,000. Wallis, a song-writer and record company founder in the 1970s, received his PhD from University of Gothenburg in 1990 for his dissertation on the music industry. He went on to become a Research Fellow at City University in London and studied how the music cassette changed music creation, but was fought ferociously by the industry. He said Thursday that he sees parallels in the file-sharing debate today. Digital technologies are weakening middlemen by allowing creators to market their work directly, he said. "A never before seen transfer of resources from intermediaries like record companies to the creators themselves" is taking place," Wallis testified. Wallis said he worries that content producers will eventually lose the privilege of copyright entirely if aggressive lawsuits continue. On cross-examination, the entertainment industry lawyers attacked Wallis' academic title and publications. Agitated, he offered to show them his CV. The proceedings were suspended twice by the court when emotions got too heated. At the end, a judge asked whether Wallis wanted any remuneration for appearing in court. He said no, but indicated he would accept flowers for his wife. Pirate Bay fans watching the proceedings on a webcast immediately launched an IRC channel, a web site and Facebook groups to support Wallis, who later reported that his home was deluged with flowers and chocolates.At the end of the day, two unrelated criminal cases against the Pirate Bay defendants were heard. Fredrik Neij was accused of having participated in a drunken burglary of a school when he was young, but the case was dismissed as too old. Gottfrid Svartholm was charged with possession of small amounts of illegal substances found during the raid of May 31, 2006.Closing statements will be heard next week. Defense lawyers, however, indicated that there may be a long wait for a judgment. They said they may demand that the Stockholm court seek an opinion from a European Union court on whether The Pirate Bay is protected by an EU directive that provides a safe harbor for communications providers under certain circumstances.
Fredrik Neij was accused of having participated in a drunken burglary of a school when he was young, but the case was dismissed as too old. Gottfrid Svartholm was charged with possession of small amounts of illegal substances found during the raid of May 31, 2006.