Downloads rocket as Swedes go legal

Following months of media coverage on the Pirate Bay, as well the introduction of an anti-piracy law, figures show more Swedes are opting to download their media legally.

According to a study from analyst firm Mediavision, 30 percent of people have reduced or stopped downloading from free sources and many have shifted over to legal alternatives.

The move from illegal to legal alternatives is common among all age groups, the report shows, but the clearest trend is among women between the ages of 15 and 24.

Henrik Pontén, spokesperson for Sweden’s Anti-Pirate Bureau explains that legal alternatives and streamed TV are possible reasons for the shift and why internet traffic has recovered following a dip after the introduction of Sweden’s tough anti-piracy law (Ipred) on April 1st.

”Those that want to break the law in some way are finding it more difficult,” he told the newspaper Aftonbladet.

Gerard Versteegh, founder of film distribution company Bonver, also cites the Ipred law as a factor making a big impact on the market.

”The law is very positive. We had big expectations which have been exceeded,” Versteegh told the newspaper.

The company, which distributes movies to 1,500 stores across the country, reports that it is shifting 20 percent more DVDs for purchase and 30-40 percent more rental DVDs in comparison with the same month last year.

The firm is also shifting 70 percent more music and Versteegh claims that its broadband movie distribution business is expanding at a rate of 120-150 percent by volume per month in comparison to last year.

”We have clearly broken the trend,” Gerard Versteegh said.

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Wikimedia ‘breaks copyright’ with Swedish statue photos

Sweden’s supreme court ruled on Monday that the non-profit internet giant Wikimedia breaches Sweden’s copyright laws by publishing photos of public artworks.

Wikimedia 'breaks copyright' with Swedish statue photos
Gothenburg's iconic Poseidon statue by Carl Milles. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

The controversial judgement is a victory for the Visual Copyright Society in Sweden (Bildupphovsrätt i Sverige – BUS), which sued Wikimedia at Stockholm District Court for publishing photos of Swedish public sculptures and other public artworks without first getting permission from the artists. 

“We are naturally very disappointed,” Wikimedia's Swedish operations manager Anna Troberg told The Local after the supreme court gave its guidance to the district court. 

“We view this as an anachronistic and restrictive interpretation of copyright laws. It also runs counter to recommendations from the European Court of Human Rights.”

Wikimedia is the group behind the free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia. It has created a vast online knowledge repository by allowing members of the public to group-edit entries and upload pictures to its pages for educational purposes. 

In its judgement the supreme court affirmed that Swedish copyright law does permit members of the public to take pictures of public artworks. But, the court said, “it is different when it’s a database where artworks are made available to the public to an unlimited extent without copyright-holders receiving any remuneration.”

“A database of this kind can be deemed to have a commercial value that is not inconsiderable,” the supreme court said in a statement.  

“The court rules that the copyright-holders are entitled to this value. It is not relevant whether or not Wikimedia has a commercial aim.” 

Wikimedia’s Anna Troberg said the group would now consult its lawyer and its parent foundation in the United States before deciding what action to take. 

“Our priority now will be to re-shape the debate, because clearly this is an outdated judgement. It is in no way in tune with the times that somebody should face legal repercussions for taking photos of public artworks that we have all paid for with our taxes.”