“I interpret this as a clear decision that individual file sharers, if they don’t earn money from file sharing, won’t get anything more than a fine. That means we can’t trace IP addresses, which means that we can’t trace private file sharers,” said prosecutor Håkan Roswall to TV4.
The question of punishment is decisive in determining how police and prosecutors may investigate file sharing.
If only fines are imposed, then the crime is not so serious that IP addresses, each computer’s unique identifier on the internet, can be requested from internet service providers.
The particular case turned away by the Svea appeal court concerned a 27 year old man who was given a fine amounting to 80 days’ salary by Sollentuna district court for breaking copyright laws. He admitted making the Swedish action film ‘The Third Wave’ accessible to others through a file sharing programme.
The prosecutor wanted the punishment reconsidered and appealed against the judgement.
After Wednesday’s decision in the high court, he said that a change in the law would now be required if legal proceedings were to be brought against individuals.
But Adrian Engman, an assessor at the Svea appeal court, told TV4 that the court did not see the decision as a precedent.
“This case was about one person who one day made one film accessible on a file sharing network. The preliminary process is very clear on these points – only in bigger cases should there be a punishment of the degree of a prison sentence,” he said.
“There were no commercial interests here either.”
Henrik Pontén, a lawyer at the industry organisation Antipiratbyrån, said the punishment of 80 days’ fine per film was satisfactory.
“We think it’s a fair and balanced penalty. We are not surprised that this was not granted a hearing,” he told TT.
“It doesn’t cause any problems for us since the cases we report today relate to many more films. It’s impossible to hunt file sharers who just share one film – but most of them have many more films that that,” said Henrik Pontén.