Founder Dirk B. Gets Reduced Prison Sentence in German Internet Piracy Trial

After making a full confession and agreeing to relinquish millions of dollars in file-sharing profits, the 39-year-old won't serve the maximum 15 years.

BERLIN -- Dirk B., the founder of illegal German filesharing site, will receive a prison sentence of between four and a half years to four years and ten months for copyright theft.

The 39-year-old German made a full confession and expressed "extreme regret" for the damage he caused with, which was shut down last year after a coordinated raid by European police in several countries. At its peak, the file-sharing site, which boasted some 135,000 copyright-protected films and TV series, had up to 4 million users a day.

According to the court, Dirk B. earned a total of $8.2 million (€6.6 million) from the site, much of it through advertising. In exchange for his confession, and for agreeing to give up his remaining wealth, the court gave Dirk B. a reduced sentence. His crimes could have carried a maximum 15 year prison sentence.

The sentencing deal, which will be formally announced next week, is expected to allow the accused to serve his time in an open institution, meaning Dirk B. will be allowed to leave the prison during the day to work. The trial has been Germany's biggest and most successfully prosecuted Internet piracy case. Three other key members of received prison sentences of three years or more. The court even slapped the site's web designer with a two and a half year sentence.

But while the German courts may be cracking down on online piracy, the German public is more divided. The Pirate Party, which advocates a more lenient approach to online copyright protection, is Germany's fastest-growing political movement. The Pirates have already won seats in several state elections and are expected to enter the national parliament, the Bundestag, in federal elections next year.