Green light to chase file-sharers

Film and music companies can once again start to collect information about people who spread copyrighted material over the internet.

The Swedish Data Inspection Board (DI) has ruled that industry organisations such as the Swedish Anti-Pirate Bureau (APB) and record industry group IFPI can collect the IP addresses of people who spread films, computer games and music against copyright laws.

DI had earlier ruled that APB and IFPI’s methods broke privacy laws, as they were collecting personal information without permission. It had also decided that collecting information about illegal spreading of material was forbidden because only government authorities are allowed to keep registers of criminal offences.

Now, DI says that both organisations can have an exception from the law, and will therefore be allowed to re-start collecting information about file-sharers IP addresses.

“The organisations’ collection of IP numbers does not constitute an undue infringement of personal integrity,” DI argued in a press release.

The organisations representing copyright owners have the duty to protect their members’ financial and legal interests, it said. It added that they were only collecting information that users of file-sharing programmes had made public by signing on to the network.

If APB and IFPI were not systematically making a register of personal information, but were simply passing on information to internet service providers or to the police.

Björn Gregfeldt, chairman of APB, told The Local that the ruling meant that the fight against illegal copying could start straight away.

“We have never kept a register of personal details,” he said.

“We can restart our operations pretty much immediately, and maybe now we’ll be able to persuade internet service providers that they have to take this problem seriously.”

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