The move is a major setback for the record companies, who have long pointed to artists as the ultimate losers from illegal file sharing.
“File sharing for private use without a profit motive is totally OK in my eyes. It’s not theft, it’s simply taking a copy of a product and spreading it around,” said Swedish rapper Max Peezay to the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).
“I don’t want to be a part of putting anyone in prison.”
As an independent artist, Max Peezay, whose given name is Tom Piha, explained that he derives most of his revenues come from concerts, rather than album sales. By his account, the money he loses because his records are downloaded rather than purchased is more than covered by income generated from additional live shows driven by new fans discovering his music for free on the internet.
Piha found himself drawn into the file sharing controversy against his will on account of shoddy research by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (Ifpi), which coordinates recording industry efforts to combat piracy.
Ifpi included Piha’s album Discokommittén among the 25 albums selected at random by prosecutors for their indictment against the founders of The Pirate Bay.
The suit demands that the four individuals who founded the file sharing site pay record companies 15 million kronor ($2.5 million) in compensatory damages.
Ifpi incorrectly assumed that the rights to the album were owned by music distributor Bonnier Amigo, and thus never bothered to ask Piha personally if he wanted to be a party in the suit.
In fact, Piha himself owns the rights.
“It should have been checked out much more carefully,” said the head of Ifpi’s branch in Sweden, Lars Gustafsson, to Svenska Dagbladet.
Gustafsson downplayed the impact that the artist’s decision to remove himself would have on the case, other than reducing the level of compensation sought in the case by 120,000 kronor, the sum in the indictment associated with the Discokommittén album.
But the incident continues to have repercussions for Piha, whose credibility has been questioned by fellow artists and fans alike.
“I wish I hadn’t landed in this situation. I can see now how easy it is to become a pawn in this game,” he told the paper.
Piha disagrees with the record companies’ approach to the file sharing issue and doesn’t think that prison sentences and fines will have an impact on file sharing in the long run.
“I don’t care what happens to Pirate Bay. But if they disappear, someone else will take their place and I don’t want to see the war escalate. I want to see a dialogue.”
A trial date for the case has yet to be set.