Sweden could scrap file-sharing ban

Sweden could introduce a charge on all broadband subscriptions to compensate music and film companies for the downloading of their work, while legalizing the downloading of copyright-protected material, justice minister Thomas Bodström has said.

Bodström told Sydsvenskan that he could consider tearing up legislation passed last year that made it illegal to download copyrighted material. He said that a broadband charge was discussed by Swedish political parties last year, but the Moderates and Left Party rejected it. If they have changed their minds, he is willing to discuss any new proposals they might have, he said.

The Left Party said yesterday that they wanted to scrap the current law because it had not reduced illegal file sharing. The Moderate Party has said that the whole area of copyright law should be overhauled to make it clearer, more effective and adapted to technological developments.

“The most important thing for me is that authors and artists get paid and I will never retreat from that,” he told the paper.

“I have not changed my position, I still think that [the current law] is the best option for two reasons: first, it would be unfair on those who have subscribed to broadband and don’t want to download, secondly because it would mean that the government was setting the price for goods, which I don’t think we should do, whether those goods are in a shop or on the net,” he told TT.

“But if the Moderates and Left Party have made a 180 degree turn and changed their minds completely, of course they can come and tell us about it. But we had this discussion last year. If they now want to find a completely new solution and have new proposals or ideas we will naturally discuss them.”

But he emphasized that he favoured the current rules, which he said “has created a market, which would not have happened if we hadn’t had this law. It is now possible to buy a song for ten kronor, and that is thanks to the new law.”

Bodström said he had not been approached directly by the Left Party or Moderates, and had only read about their proposals in the media.