16,000 kronor fine for file sharing

The 28 year old man at the centre of Sweden's debate on illegal file sharing has been found guilty of breaking the country's copyright law and fined 16,000 kronor (2,000 US dollars) by Västmanland district court in Västerås.

The man admitted in a police interview that he had made the Swedish film Hip Hip Hora accessible on the internet using the file sharing programme DC++, but in the trial he withdrew the confession and said it was based on a misunderstanding.

Nevertheless, the court considered that his backtracking was a fabrication. Nor did the judges give any credence to the defence lawyer’s claims that the evidence presented by the prosecution could have been manipulated.

In its judgement, the court pointed out that illegal file sharing could have major consequences for the film industry and that “one should therefore take this crime seriously”.

This particular case only dealt with one film, and since the 28 year old made no financial gain from sharing it the court said it was imposing “a not insignificant fine” instead of prison.

Prosecutor Chatrine Rudström said she was satisfied that the court accepted her evidence and clarified the legal position – that file sharing is “public distribution” which is regulated by copyright laws.

“I am satisfied that it was stated that this is a criminal offence and that it can be seen as public distribution,” she said to TT.

The last few weeks have seen considerable speculation about the consequences of a guilty verdict and fine for the continued hunt for file sharers.

If the crime “only” results in a fine instead of prison, it means that police are unable to request personal details from internet operators. And that means the police cannot carry out raids on homes since they will not know exactly who is represented by the IP address.

Chatrine Rudström said she wanted to wait and see what happened in other cases before drawing any conclusions about what this means for the issue as a whole in Sweden.

She won’t have to wait long: a similar trial is to be held in Sollentuna district court on Wednesday.

TT/The Local