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Swedish anti-piracy enemies "bury the hatchet"

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13:02 CEST+02:00
The public feud between Sweden's anti-piracy group, Antipiratbyrån (APB), and internet service provider Bahnhof has fizzled out after both organisations agreed to stop legal actions against each other.

On March 9th APB, with muscle from The Swedish Enforcement Administration, raided Bahnhof and confiscated servers containing thousands of film, music and games files. But two weeks later it emerged that an APB infiltrator working at Bahnhof was responsible for over 68,000 uploads and downloads of copyright-protected material on the servers.

APB reported Bahnhof to the police and the internet company responded by accusing APB of breaking personal data and electronic communication laws.

But in a joint press release on Monday, Bahnhof and APB declared that they now "stand united against pirate copying".

As well as withdrawing allegations against each other, the organisations have agreed to contribute as much information as possible to any police investigations into illegal file-sharing.

"We've buried the hatchet," said Bahnhof's managing director, Jon Karlung, to Svenska Dagbladet.

"There is no reason for me to comment on what we discovered in our internal investigation, or the fact that APB were using an infiltrator, now that we have reached this agreement."

Bahnhof has fired two employees, including the infiltrator, who were copying and distributing copyright-protected material. The company says it has carried out "a thorough inventory of the servers and is implementing a number of other measures".

While the move restores some credibility to APB, which has seen its billing switch from town sheriff to most wanted in a matter of weeks, the organisation isn't off the hook just yet.

It still stands accused of breaking personal data laws and laws governing electronic communication and is the subject of investigations by the Swedish Data Inspection Board and the National Post and Telecom Agency.

Meanwhile, a number of smaller internet companies have said that it is simply impossible for them to check what their customers have on their servers.

"It would just take too long to go through everything," said Fredrik Sköld, the managing director of FS Data, which, with 14 employees is Sweden's largest "web hotel".

He told Computer Sweden that if there is illegal material on the company's servers the only way they'll know about it is if someone reports it.

"In that case we close the account," he said.

Even larger organisations such as newspaper Aftonbladet have said that it is impossible to be 100% certain that all customers' files are legal. Now, some companies are said to be keen to work with APB - even if they won't admit it publicly.

"Personally I haven't taken a position on this yet," said Jonas Gustafsson, managing director of web hotel Ballou.

"You have to wonder if APB's methods are legal - it will be fun to see how things turn out

in the law courts," he added.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Computer Sweden

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