The Pirate Bay and its users are copyright infringers, the High Court has established in a judgment that is likely to lead to the popular file-sharing site being blocked in the UK. Sony's British unit and eight other record labels won a UK trial on their claims that users and operators the Sweden-based website used for online file sharing, violate their copyrights.
The operators of the site, who weren't represented at the trial, "incite or persuade" users to commit copyright infringement, Judge Richard Arnold ruled this week in London.
The users have "a common design to infringe," he added.
While Pirate Bay isn't a defendant, the court's finding was required before the record labels could seek a court order forcing British Sky Broadcasting Group and five other internet-service providers to block access to the site, according to the judgment.
Arnold said the case was similar to a landmark ruling last year in which ISPs were ordered to block access to a file-sharing website known as Newzbin.
Pirate Bay enables downloading of digitised music and films using software called BitTorrent that enables complete works to be assembled from pieces on other users' computers.
The site has faced civil and criminal proceedings in other countries, including in Sweden. Arnold said the website was openly opposed to the record labels' copyrights.