Publishers triumph in anti-piracy test case

Sweden’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that broadband provider ePhone is obligated to hand over customer data to five audio book publishers.

The ruling, which overturned an appeals court decision, means the first legal challenge under Sweden’s new anti-piracy law has ended in favour of copyright holders.

The decision prohibits ePhone from destroying information about the identity of the person who operates a server containing several audio book sound files.

Five book publishers had requested that ePhone divulge the identity of the person behind an IP address associated with the internet service provider.

The publishers claimed that there were audio book files on the computer that were accessible for downloading by the general public.

At first, Solna District Court ruled in favour of the publishers.

But in a split ruling decided only by the weighted vote of the presiding judge, the Svea Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s ruling, instead finding in favour of ePhone.

The appeals court ruling was a blow to the entertainment industry, which was quick to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

At stake was the setting of a precedent regarding the application of an anti-file sharing law which came into effect in Sweden on April 1st.

The law, based on the EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED), requires internet providers to provide data about customers targeted in copyright infringement investigations following a court order.

The book publishers emerged victorious in the final instance, and can now under threat of a 500,000 kronor ($70,000) fine order ePhone not to destroy information about the person targeted in the investigation.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.”