Swedish copyright laws ‘a joke’

Swedish copyright laws 'a joke'
The director and producers of Let The Right One In, a Swedish movie that has proved an enormous box office and critical success, have lent their voices to Sweden's ongoing intellectual property debate with an open letter to the government.

Open letter to the Alliance party leaders.

November 25th 2008

Dear Fredrik, Maud, Jan and Göran,

Four years ago we began work on a movie based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel Låt den rätte komma in (Let The Right One In). After two years work looking for financing, in which we used money belonging to us and other people, we managed to raise the 28 million kronor ($3.5 million) necessary to realize the project. Since then, almost 400 people from the Swedish film industry have participated in the project.

It takes maybe thirty seconds to transfer all this effort and the money invested onto a USB memory stick that will fit in your back pocket. This copy can then be used to generate new copies, and so on ad infinitum. Not only is our product expensive and difficult to produce, it is also sensitive to say the least in its physical form.

We are proud that our work has put Sweden back on the international film map. The movie has already won sixteen international awards and has received glowing reviews in every country in which it was premiered. In the United States alone, the movie is going to be shown in more than forty cities. The movie has been sold to over fifty countries, making it one of the biggest Swedish film exports of all time. This is a one in a hundred occurrence that has a lot to do with luck and timing, but it is mainly down to the hard work skill of all four hundred of us who have contributed to making the film.

On October 24th the movie had its Swedish premiere. Ten days later, the thing that shouldn’t be allowed to happen did happen: a stolen copy of our movie was made accessible for piracy on The Pirate Bay and other similar sites. Now the movie is available for anybody to watch free of charge. It should be clear to anybody that this is a catastrophe for us.

Regardless of how much international success it garners, it’s not going to be enough for the movie to cover its costs. Only a small fraction of this money makes its way to us. It is on the home market that Let The Right One In has to make the money back.

Despite the fact that we work with the development of fantasies, the economic realities we face are as crass for us as they are for any other industry. Our reality is as concrete as that of a car manufacturer. We are part of the Swedish film industry and live under the same conditions as any other industry – except for the fact that we’re just supposed to accept that what we produce is not protected against theft.

We are often asked by our colleagues abroad why Sweden has become such a paradise for internet pirates. Swedish laws are considered something of a joke and our politicians are viewed as arrogant for not taking this seriously. Sweden has the worst laws in this area and, consequently, the worst problems with piracy. It is embarrassing that Sweden has waited so long to put in place a directive that was implemented long ago by our European neighbours.

If this state of affairs continues to prevail, we will no longer be able to support ourselves with our work. We will have to either switch jobs or move away from here. The logical extension: no more files to share.

We are left to wonder why we do not enjoy the same legal protections as other industries and why you as party leaders and ministers do not openly express your support for copyright protection?

Tomas Alfredson, Director

John Nordling, Producer

Carl Molinder, Producer

See also: Movie clip from Let The Right One In, and interview with director Tomas Alfredson.

Translation: The Local