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Prosecution Baffled by Pirate Bay's Anarchic Structure

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STOCKHOLM — Defendant Fredrik Neij took the stand as the landmark trial of Pirate Bay continued Thursday, and left the prosecutor scratching his head over who is in charge of the BitTorrent site.

Three young computer geeks and one businessman face civil and criminal charges here for alleged contributory copyright infringement. The three geeks — Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde — are often referred to as “the good, the bad and the ugly." Neij is the bad one: a tech whiz with unpaid parking tickets and tax debts, who overslept Sunday's Pirate Bay press conference.

Clad in a brown T-shirt with golden print, Neij appeared awkward in court as he struggled to explain the community nature of Pirate Bay to a prosecutor who seemed unfamiliar with non-hierarchical organization.

The prosecutor became visibly frustrated when he tried to get Neij to identify the kingpin who is ultimately responsible for Pirate Bay and the text and graphics on the site. Neij explained that an extended group of people have privileges on the server, and contribute haphazardly as they see fit. The prosecutor seemed not to grasp the concept. “But someone must ultimately decide whether to put up a certain text or graphic," he protested.

“No," Neij answered. “Why? If someone believes a new text is needed, he just inputs it. Or if a graphic is ugly, someone makes a better one. The one who wants to do something just does it."

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