Swedish firms slam UK filesharing measure

Swedish firms slam UK filesharing measure
Some of Sweden's largest internet service providers have made it clear that they would not support an agreement to combat file sharing similar to one recently reached in the UK.

“We don’t want to act like police and feel that a system similar to that in the UK is a deep invasion of privacy,” said Annika Kristersson of internet and telecommunications company Tele2 to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

“It would entail us having to spy on our customers.”

The comments come on the heels of an agreement reached by Britain’s six largest internet service providers (ISPs) to do more to combat internet piracy.

The memorandum of understanding, which was brokered by the UK government at the urging of music industry association BPI, calls upon the signatories to work with music and other copyright holders towards a “significant reduction” in illegal filesharing.

Some of the suggested measures in the agreement include warning letters, as well as the restriction – or even termination – of an offender’s internet service.

Companies may also monitor internet traffic and restrict access to sites used by filesharers.

But Swedish ISPs are decidedly cool toward pursuing a similar strategy for fighting illegal downloading in Sweden.

“To try to restrict connections and reduce connection speeds shows a high degree of amateurism,” said Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung to SvD.

“Today there are so many tasks carried out over the internet.”

Patrik Hiselius of Telia, a subsidiary of TeliaSonera and Sweden’s largest telecommunications provider, stressed that his company would rather see some form of legalized downloading, rather than punitive measures.

While, Magnus Mårtensson from Ifpi, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, sees the UK measure as a positive development, he hopes that Sweden will go a step further.

“As we see things, there are two alternatives: either we come to a voluntary agreement, or we get some legislation with gives us the ability to use the courts. From the perspective of the rule of law, the second alternative is clearly better.

Ifpi is currently party to a lawsuit against filesharing site The Pirate Bay demanding that the site’s founders pay record companies 15 million kronor ($2.5 million) in compensatory damages.