The Pirate Bay is a site that shares links to torrents, which are files that help to download content from peer to peer (P2P) networks. Torrent sharing is the main way in which people gain access to copyright-infringing films and music.
Facebook makes software code available to website publishers which allows users of the websites to share links at the click of a button on their own Facebook page.
The Pirate Bay recently began including that 'share on Facebook' facility on the pages related to the torrents it distributes. Clicking the button meant that the torrent link appeared on Facebook users' profiles.
Facebook has now blocked all shared links from The Pirate Bay.
Technology lawyer Struan Robertson had said when the link-sharing started that the social networking giant could end up being liable for copyright infringement.
"Not everything to which Pirate Bay links infringes copyright, but much of it does," said Struan Robertson, a technology lawyer at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM.
"Some links posted to Facebook via other sites no doubt link to infringing content and Facebook is generally not liable for these infringements; but if it is made aware of links to infringing content and refuses to remove them, it may become liable," he said.
Facebook's terms and conditions for the sharing service forbid providing links to copyright infringing material. They also allow Facebook to pursue the site where links originated for any liabilities those links create for Facebook.
Facebook was not available for comment, but company spokesman Barry Schnitt told file-sharing news site TorrentFreak: "given the controversy surrounding The Pirate Bay and the pending lawsuit against them, we’ve reached out to The Pirate Bay and asked them to remove the ‘Share on Facebook’ links from their site. The Pirate Bay has not responded and so we have blocked their torrents from being shared on Facebook".
Four men said to be behind The Pirate Bay stood trial last month on copyright infringement charges in Sweden. The verdict on their case is expected next week, on 17th April.