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Anti-piracy law has little effect on internet use

Anti-piracy law has little effect on internet use

Published: 01 Apr 2010 13:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Apr 2010 13:45 GMT+02:00

A year after the adoption of Sweden's IPRED anti-piracy legislation, new figures show that file sharing is growing in popularity, internet traffic has rebounded strongly, and only a small handful of cases have been brought before the courts.

The introduction of the law, aimed at tackling file sharing by allowing access to subscriber information, coincided with the high profile convictions of the four backers of the Pirate Bay in April 2009.

The day after the law's adoption on April 1st internet traffic declined by 30 percent, according to figures from Netnod, a company responsible for the operation of internet exchanges in five Swedish cities.

"The majority of all internet traffic is file sharing, which is why nothing other than the new IPRED law can explain this major drop in traffic," Anti-Piracy Agency lawyer Henrik Pontén said at the time.

But new figures from Netnod indicate that the drop was only short lived and taken over a two year period the April dip is part of a longer term steady upward trend.

But the agency claims that the law continues to have a "dampening effect" on illegal file sharing.

"The degree to which this effect will be sustained may be impacted by, among other things, the decisions in the IPRED cases currently under the court's review," the agency wrote in a statement marking the first anniversary of the law on Thursday.

According to a Sifo survey published by broadcaster Viasat on Wednesday the number of illegal file sharers is increasing. In March 2009 26 percent of Swedes confirmed that they file shared, by September 2009 this has dropped to 11 percent, but in Wednesday's poll the figure had climbed back up to 16 percent.

Illegal streaming has also become more popular with a recent report from internet company Cisco confirming the rise of the technology as it eliminates the need for users to download copyrighted files and run the risk of prosecution.

In framing the legislative proposal the justice department stated an expectation that 400-800 IPRED cases would reach the courts each year, but over the past year a mere five reports have been made to Sweden's courts, only three of which remain outstanding.

One of the more high profile cases concerns five audio book publishers which was filed on April 1st 2009. On October 13th the appeals court denied the publisher's request for subscriber information.

A further case in Södertörn district court in August resulted in TeliaSonera being instructed to divulge subscriber information; the firm has now appealed the ruling.

A fund that was set up to support those sued under the IPRED law has now been put on hold, as has a similar service by the Bureau of Piracy (Piratbyrån), a group set up in 2003 to discuss file sharing issues.

"The IPRED law has not got the breakthrough that people thought, regardless of which side of the debate you sit. As not much has happened then it is difficult to assess whether the law has been effective, or whether it has been a threat to personal integrity," said Marcin de Kaminski, a founder of the Bureau of Piracy and researcher at Lund University, to the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

The Local spoke to Lars Gustafsson, chief executive of IFPI Sweden, in February after a police raid led to the seizure of so-called DC hubs and their operators at locations across Sweden.

"The police have had a shortage of resources for this type of crime but now it seems to be creeping up the list of priorities somewhat," he said.

The new file sharing law is based on the European Union's Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) and allows courts to order internet operators to hand over details that identify suspected illegal file sharers.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:25 April 1, 2010 by alingsaskev
This is an incredibly complex issue and sadly it will take decades to arrive at the kind of resolution that will be acceptable to the majority of parities.

The United Kingdom and Sweden along with many other territories have adopted a hard-line approach which would at first glance seem both sensible and proportionate in protecting the rights of intellectual property and digital media. However, with technology advancing at breakneck speed and with both consumers and producers striving toward ever more connected media there will come a time, indeed many will say that time is now here, whereby the antiquated systems of copyright that we now adhere to will have seen its day.

It is now time to think outside the box and to bring media producers and consumers to the negotiating table to discuss a mutually beneficial and sustainable global settlement to this debate.

Perhaps the time of buying media piece-meal has passed and each household in each territory should be charged an entertainment levy to be distributed amongst media producers at a rate based on output and quality with no restrictions to which territories or media that can be accessed.

If the world is to become a true global village this is perhaps the way forward, however huge resistance will come from countries such as China and producers like as the larger film studios and music labels.

Perhaps the way forward is the Spotify model where media is never owned, simply requested and viewed once, but whatever the way forward (and it will take someone considerably smarter than me to decide that), file sharing has become a social staple and it is here to stay. Nation states can take whatever action they deem appropriate to prevent piracy, but as they bolt one door closed, the Internet will throw open a window somewhere else. Until all parties can agree on a solution the law will spend billions worldwide chasing smoke through cyberspace.
17:22 April 1, 2010 by si
bla bla bla yawn
19:27 April 1, 2010 by Bay
Having or owning owning copy write material will be come much less part of the internet experience in the not too distant future. Most media and Video will be streamed to your computer device- handheld or HDTV. Perhaps for those insisting on Pirating copy write media; http://www.p2pnet.net/story/37134 For the rest of us , all media will very soon be supported by adversing, easily accessible and most likely free to watch or listen thanks to Google.
11:33 April 2, 2010 by Mib
If the highly paid execs had 1% of Steve Job's vision, they would not have been in this situation where the likes of EMI are losing money and media is freely available for 0sek. There is some great music out there, but the Marketing strategies are cr@p. They need to take advantage of the new technologies on the Internet to Market their products, but also innovate if they are to survive.

People like me who have invested in large music collections are very reluctant to pay again for the same material. Spotify, Smartradios have been great tools as they provide great ways to discover new music.

People are not stupid and realise that a CD album that is sold for 159sek, cannot be made available for at least half the price via electroni formats. As someone mentioned earlier the future is everything streamed to your home and you will pay a monthly subscription or pay as you go. It already exists now!

The teenagers today have got so used to getting their media for free, that it will require draconian measures to stop it. But that should not happen.

I like to follow English football, but I refuse to pay the high cost. So, I will either watch it in the pub or if I'm really desperate, I can find someone streaming over the Internet. This area will develop further with better quality, while the fatcats make lots of money in the short term. They will need to change their ways if they are not to go the same way as the music fatcats.
12:12 April 3, 2010 by saar
If I want let's say little known French film from 50's or 60's where can I find it? Nowhere. Except some torrent sites.Had I given a legal alternative,I would have paid for it. Voddler and such offer mainstream BS only.
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