Swedish file sharing test case begins

A 28 year old from Västerås will make Swedish IT history on Tuesday as the first person to be tried for file sharing. The outcome of the case will have a great impact on Sweden's battle between determined file sharers and the anti-piracy organisation, Antipiratbyrå, (APB).

The man is to appear in court accused of having a copy of the Swedish film Hip Hip Hora on his computer which he allowed others to download. He admits having downloaded the film but denies that he distributed it to others online.

“I hope and believe that he will be found not guilty,” said his lawyer Torbjörn Persson.

“The evidence is very weak. If he is given a fine it will, in principle, be impossible to investigate this kind of crime.”

If the court simply fines the 28 year old, it will mean that police cannot in future raid homes or request information from internet service providers about customers suspected of file sharing. The most serious penalty the man faces is a suspended sentence – which would deem the crime serious enough to justify more active police involvement.

Henrik Pontén, the lawyer at APB, said that he believes there will be more cases to come, irrespective of the outcome of Tuesday’s trial. APB, which is a co-operation between the associations representing Swedish film and computer games companies, says that the man shared 27 films but this case is only testing the legal waters with one.

“If he is just given a fine, we’ll take more films next time,” said Pontén, suggesting that more films would mean more fines, justifying the cost of an investigation.

According to the company Mediavision, some 800,000 Swedes shared files in the second quarter of this year.

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