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Sweden's 'youngest' file sharer, 16, found guilty

Sweden's 'youngest' file sharer, 16, found guilty

Published: 21 Dec 2011 13:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Dec 2011 13:57 GMT+01:00

A now 16-year-old boy who had been turned in by his school for downloading films was convicted of violating Sweden's copyright laws by a appeals court on Wednesday, overturning a lower court's acquittal.

In August, the Gothenburg District Court acquitted the boy, who was put on trial for having downloaded at least 24 films from the internet and then sharing them with others.

As he was 15 at the time of the initial trial, he is considered to be the youngest person ever to be put on trial in Sweden for filesharing crimes.

At the time of the boy's acquittal, prosecutors called the lower court's ruling “absurd” and vowed to appeal.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal for Western Sweden reversed the district court's ruling, and convicted the teenager for downloading copyrighted material.

The boy was reported to police by his school principal after the school's IT department discovered the downloaded films on his computer.

They made the find after having identified the boy's computer as the source of a virus that had infected the school's computer system.

While he admitted to downloading the films, the 16-year-old claimed he was unaware that his actions were criminal.

According to the appeals court, the boy must have realized it was “possible that his downloading covered copyright protected material that he couldn't legally download”.

“When he, despite this, downloaded the films without finding out the particulars, he behaved with serious recklessness,” the court wrote in its ruling, the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) daily reported.

“In this respect, he is guilty of committing a crime against the copyright law.”

The court ordered the boy to pay a fine of 1,500 kronor ($220).

As the offence was limited and not seen to be a part of any larger organized filesharing operation, the court's sentence was relatively lenient.

Nevertheless, the Pirate Party, a political party which wants to see reforms of copyright laws, condemned the guilty verdict.

“The appeals court's ruling means that hundreds of thousands of young Swedes are at risk of being dragged into court,” party leader Anna Troberg said in a statement.

“This is not right. Today's copyright laws are wrong in that they criminalize an entire generation of young people and throw a spanner in the works for new creators of culture that see technology's possibilities.”

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:02 December 21, 2011 by crunchy2k
The lower court was correct here. The crime was in the uploading, not the downloading. Children do not have the mind of an adult and their actions in situations like this are are done without criminal intent.

In the sixties, I had use of a high quality sound system. I traded albums with my friends. Our parents all had reel to reel tape decks and Swedish Jorgen turn tables..We ripped and traded..We didn't even think about the copyright...Someone of us had to buy the album...those that would have bought did so....
14:16 December 21, 2011 by Abe L
I still can not believe that a country like Sweden adopted this law in the first place, let alone is now enforcing it upon minors? Really, you can't criminalize something that isn't a proven crime in the first place and which is considered socially acceptable by entire nations.

Downloading is NOT stealing, these can't be compared. Nothing gets taken away of anyone and nobody looses any property. I'd be happy to have my property stolen over and over again if people could go by and make exact replicas without taking the original property.

Either way, 1500SEK for 24 movies isn't a bad deal.
14:57 December 21, 2011 by DAVID T
He should have been forced to pay minimum what it would have cost to buy the films and then a hefty fine for damages as punishment as well as being banned from the internet for 5 years or so - The fines should be split between the film companies, distributors, and stores that employ thousands of people who's family's rely on their wages.
15:28 December 21, 2011 by crunchy2k
@DAVID T, I agree. He should have been only fined on the rental costs. At $2.00 a film = $48 or 328.2816 SEK, anymore is unjust punishment under USA law. Although, the RIAA and MPAA have asked for 1000% damages. That is still in the courts here in the states. Normal damages never exceed 50%. I disagree about giving the money to the errant suers. They have lawsuits against them from the same people they are appearing to protect. The $43million lawsuit from Canadian artist is a good example. The fines should be put in escrow for those that sue the RIAA and MPAA.
16:19 December 21, 2011 by philster61
Meanwhile the bombings and rapes continue
16:22 December 21, 2011 by tgolan
no wonder young people have no respect for politicians and the law, powerful companies make millions off downloading but who get prosecuted a private person a child while the major companies with their monopolies go free
16:36 December 21, 2011 by eppie
@david T

Maybe those morons should find a real job instead. Making crap movies or music that you can then sell for lots of money to ignorant children is not a living to be proud of.

But again I am really outraged by the way justice systems in many countries (not only sweden) spend their valuable time in helping the music and movie industry. I think there are many groups of people that would deserve this protection from the state a lot more.
17:02 December 21, 2011 by J Jack
Acquitted for being found guilty? Now that's a waste of money, punked slut!
18:48 December 21, 2011 by iddqd
just use a seedbox in the future: faster downloading and no legal problems.

and/or use private trackers. noone got busted for using them in europe so far. opentrackers is a good keyword here.
23:12 December 21, 2011 by Liquidmonkey
is this another DC++ case?

or is it torrents?

cant find the info anywhere :(
00:27 December 22, 2011 by crunchy2k
It not a DC++ case...but, I pulled out of DC++ as I knew all the ips and shares in a managable spot...but this is the best way to trade...yak and scream at a torrent and you get ? A better download...damn But I like DC++ hubs....but kids they be private now.
08:42 December 22, 2011 by Coaxen
@DAVID T:

If Gold grew on every tree, it would be worth as much as leaves.

The same applies to music: why should huge companies earn money for nothing? According to their rules, if you copy an mp3 file on your computer, you magically create value. Buy a 2TB hard drive, fill it with millions of copies of the same mp3, and you have a hard drive worth millions of dollars... according to those deranged moneygrabbing corporate idiots.

Artists should earn money on live concerts. No middlemen.
11:36 December 22, 2011 by Grokh
the ironic part is that music industry loses more money trying to sue everyone than they get back, and some of the fines for a person that shared a cd can go up to millions and millions.

Not to mention most record labels sell music without paying fees to the actual singers.

In the end they just want to be the only ones cheating everyone. Not to mention they are the people behind the corruption and the idea of the SOPA law which makes for a great orwelian society -_-x
15:57 December 22, 2011 by guanga
@philster61+1
22:49 December 22, 2011 by DAVID T
@eppie

I've been working in the music business for years and i'm neither rich or a moron and I have 2 kids. The directors of every company make good money and why not. The directors of the company that made the computer you wrote your pillock brained statement on earn good money but that doesn't mean we can all go out and steal computers - these same directors employ thousands of people but with your logic they should all get new jobs - sounds a bit like north korea - go for visit limpdick
06:45 December 23, 2011 by shahislam
You can't control these things in this digital era to profit electronically linked businesses. Focus on bigger issues.

They are no good but keep them for show and inactive, there to scare criminal minded guys and only activate when someone from a suspicious background e.g. Lebanon, Palestinian, Srilankan, Turbaned Punjabi, Paradise going traveler: Mullahs of Arabs with head-coverings etc. shows up at the airport. By the globally developed electronic signatures in a simple passport of any of the global citizens we can track down each traveler and new honestly explained laws made for public safety will not require everyone to pass through the scanners. Also private guns from the global streets will be taken away and the process of changing laws can be started with guys like Mr. Barack Obama and his less greedy advisers -who are not connected with Oil and Weapon businesses.
22:18 December 23, 2011 by james_g
Good on you, DAVID T. People may have little sympathy for those 'Making crap movies or music' but as it happens there are also people making good movies and excellent music who do not deserve to be ripped off - and that's what it is! Yeah, sure, we've all done it but there's a bit of a difference between ripping a few bits & pieces for your own private use and making what amounts to a business of it (non-profit or otherwise)! And - Coaxen, idiot, get a grip - 'Artists should earn money on live concerts. No middlemen.' ; well, when was the last time you got a reasonably well-paid gig? It's difficult enought to get a paid gig at all these days, with canned music abounding and a rash of open mics. Apart from relatively big names it ain't that easy! And, apart from pub gigs (and even for many of them), how do you manage without a middleman? Ever heard of promotors, for a start? Oh, and Grokh - 'most record labels sell music without paying fees to the actual singers. ' Really? Point is - and the problem - with many musicians, and a few film makers too, I think - going down the do-it-yourself route, epidemic file-sharing is just going to cut off one source of income. Possibly - probably - not a big one for 'the little guy', but it could make all the difference! Also, it's not just the performers - how about songwriters? C'mon, think this through...
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