A Swedish appeals court on Friday upheld the copyright convictions of three men behind The Pirate Bay, a popular file-sharing site that remains in operation despite attempts by authorities to shut it down.
The Svea Appeals Court agreed with a lower court ruling that found Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundstrom guilty of helping users of the site to break Sweden's copyright law.
However, the appeals court reduced their prison sentences from one year each to between four and 10 months and raised the amount they have to pay in damages to the entertainment industry to 46 million kronor ($6.5 million).
The lower court had set damages at 32 million kronor ($4.5 million).
A fourth man convicted by the lower court, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, didn't appear in the appeals court hearings, citing illness.
The Pirate Bay has been a thorn in the side of the entertainment industry for years by helping millions of people illegally download music, movies and computer games.
The defendants have denied any wrongdoing, saying the site doesn't actually host any copyright-protected material itself.
Instead, it provides a forum for its users to download content through so-called torrent files. The technology allows users to transfer parts of a large file from several different users, increasing download speeds.
Neij's defense lawyer, Jonas Nilsson, said he wasn't surprised but disappointed by the appeals court ruling and said they would probably appeal to the Supreme Court.
It was not clear whether Sunde and Lundstrom would appeal. Their lawyers did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Swedish authorities have been unable to shut down The Pirate Bay despite the guilty verdicts. But Monique Wadsted, a lawyer representing entertainment companies including Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, said she believes the site's days are numbered.
"My assessment is that in two years this type of piracy activity will be completely dead," she said.
Frances Moore, CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said the ruling confirmed "the illegality" of the site.
"We now look to governments and ISP's (Internet Service Providers) to take note of this judgment, do the responsible thing and take the necessary steps to get The Pirate Bay shut down," Moore said in a statement.
Others were not so sure.
"People won't stop file-sharing because of this," said Andre Rickardsson, an expert on file-sharing and information technology security at Sweden's Bitsec Consulting.
"All that is going to happen is that this type of operations will just be moved to other countries," he said. "There are no frontiers for the Internet."