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The Pirate Bay's Peter Sunde: 'They can't take my soul'

Daniel Goldberg, Linus Larsson | Feb. 19, 2013
Peter Sunde was the poster boy for the file sharing movemen, then he was sentenced to eight months prison and fined millions of dollars

We are standing in a parking lot in the city of MalmAP, southern Sweden, one ofA the many places Peter Sunde now calls home. The sky above us is grey, as usual at this time of year. Just as the parking meter spits out our ticket, a young man driving much too fast on a motorcycle roars up behind us. He is followed by a police car, sirens blaring and blue lights flashing.

The motorcycle driver brakes to a stop next to our car, a silver-colored BMW. The policeman steps out with a grim look on his face. A speeding ticket is issued.

We start walking back toward our car. Sunde hesitates. "I'll just stay here," he says. "I'm not sure, but I think there may be a warrant for my arrest."

The BMW belongs to his mother. Sunde, who once ran the world's largest bittorrent site, doesn't own a car, or a house for that matter. Anything of value that he owns can be seized by the Swedish government, to pay off the damages that a court ruled he owed to the music and film industries. He's spent the past few years getting used to a life without belongings.

Sunde doesn't actually know if he is wanted by the police. A room at the VA$?stervik prison awaits his arrival, but he hasn't bothered to show up. In fact, he is trying his best not to make himself available to the authorities. It's not that he stays in hiding, but he doesn't make himself easy to get in touch with either. He doesn't check his mail, and he doesn't call the police asking for instructions. If they want him, he says, then they know where to find him. "They haven't exactly been fair to me this far. If it happens, it happens, but I won't make things worse for myself," Sunde says.

We walk the other way, away from the police car.

This year, The Pirate Bay celebrates its 10th anniversary. Many of us have used the site at one time or other. Sunde has spent nearly a third of his life keeping it alive. He's developed the reputation of a provocateur. For nearly a decade he's been arguing against what he perceives as Hollywood's unjust monopoly on entertainment distribution, and for freeing the Internet from the shackles of the copyright industry. Two years ago, he lost. The Swedish royal court sentenced him and his three accomplices to jail and fined them 46 million Swedish kronor, roughly $7 million, in damages.

We are in MalmAP to ask Sunde a very simple question: how does that make him feel? He has promised to give us an answer.

 

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