Swedish file sharing law “has made no difference”

A law introduced a month ago banning the downloading of copyright-protected material without the owner's permission appears to have had no effect on downloaders' behaviour, according to Swedish internet providers.

“Looking at our figures, nothing has happened,” said Niklas Jakobsson, an engineer at Netnod, Sweden’s biggest internet hub.

Jakobsson told Thursday’s Metro that the law “has not influenced the traffic” passing through the company’s systems, a message which was confirmed by other providers.

“We have seen no big change either upwards or downwards,” said Peder Ramel, the managing director of Bredbandsbolaget.

“And that points to the fact that the law has not had any influence.”

One positive change, as far as the copyright owners are concerned, is a significant rise in legal downloads. Robert Gustavsson, managing director at download company Inprodicon, told Metro that his company has seen an increase of 5-8% a week since April.

Part of the problem seems to be that the law is toothless: Sweden’s police simply have more important things to be getting on with than checking up on kids swapping music and games files.

“This isn’t an area which we are prioritising today,” said Anders Ahlqvist at the police’s IT unit to Swedish Radio.

“We prioritise other crimes, such as serious violent crime, child pornography and drug crime.”

Ahlqvist told SR that while it was possible that investigations would follow after specific reports of illegal downloading, he said it was “highly unlikely” that the police would actively hunt law-breaking file-sharers.

Despite the fact that under the new law illegal downloaders could face a prison sentence, Ahlqvist said that this was not the kind of thing that people would be arrested for.

“This is a cultural thing,” he said.

“There’s a whole generation which has grown up with file sharing – I don’t think it will stop just because there’s a new law.”

Sources: Metro, SR