US film giants appeal in file-sharing case

In a corporate David and Goliath-style case, a Stockholm-based internet operator is fighting a file-sharing lawsuit against a collective of large US film companies.

A list of 14 companies, including Disney Enterprises, Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures, have lodged an appeal to force Swedish broadband operator Portlane to shut-down a so-called tracker, a device they state is being used illegally to simplify file-sharing.

In early December, Stockholm District Court denied the film companies’ demands and concluded that Portlane’s main business activity, supplying internet access, could not be considered as a contribution to copyright infringement.

The movie moguls are now countering the court’s decision. They claim that by offering bandwidth along with the tracker it is simpler to find and download illegal files via the internet.

An appeal was consequently lodged before Christmas and the case will now be heard in Sweden’s Court of Appeal.

According to an article in Wednesday’s Svenska Dagbladet, Portlane’s tracker is suspected of replacing a device from the controversial Swedish file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.

The film companies state that Portlane has not done enough to put a stop to suspected file-sharing and the operator must therefore take responsibility.

For the less technologically-minded, the appeal document uses an analogy which compares Portlane’s actions to a landlord who turns a blind eye to a tenant performing illegal sexual acts for financial reward.

“An example of a similar type of contributory responsibility is a landlord embroiled in pimping,” the document states. “It is not enough that the landlord attempts to persuade the tenant to put an end to their actions if they do not then stop.”

Speaking to Swedish Radio after the District Court verdict, lawyer Jonas Forzelius, representing Portlane, was confident that the company would come out on top.

“What the court has said in this interim decision is that taking the side of the film companies in this matter would result in far-reaching consequences for any internet operator,” he said. “And that has been Portlane’s take on the case all along.”

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How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic

A front-line Swedish nurse is getting some Covid downtime with a week of private screenings of the Gothenburg film festival, in a former lighthouse off the country's west coast.

How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic
Competition winner Lisa Enroth.

More than 12,000 candidates from 45 countries applied to watch the festival's films in almost near isolation on an island 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Stockholm.

The prize is a week viewing as many of the festival's 70 premieres as they like in a hotel in the former Pater Noster Lighthouse. But they will be in isolation and will have no access to their own computer or laptop.

READ ALSO: Decision on stricter restrictions for foreign travellers to be made quickly

The bright-red lighthouse, built on a tiny island off Sweden's west coast in 1868, is surrounded by a scattering of squat, red buildings originally built to house the lighthouse keeper's family. It can only be reached by boat or helicopter, depending on the weather.

After a series of interviews and tests, festival organisers chose emergency nurse and film buff Lisa Enroth for the prize, in keeping with the 2021 festival's theme, Social Distances.

Before boarding a small speedboat out to the island on the clear, chill winter's morning, Enroth said she had applied not only out of her love for the cinema, but also to seek respite from her hectic work as an emergency nurse during the pandemic.

“It has been hectic, so it's a nice opportunity just to be able to land and to reflect over the year,” she said.

Months working amid Covid crisis

Sweden, which has taken a light-touch approach to the pandemic compared to its neighbours, has been facing a stronger than expected second wave of the virus. So far, more than 11,500 people have died from Covid-19 across the country.

Enroth works in the emergency ward of a hospital in Skovde in central Sweden. Since the start of the pandemic, her hospital's work caring for virus patients on top of their regular workload has been intense.

Lisa Enroth on her way to the remote festival location. Photo: AFP

“We had a lot of Covid cases during this year and every patient that has been admitted to the hospital has been passing through the emergency ward,” she told journalists.

The organisers said they were surprised by the numbers of applicants for the prize but were confident they had chosen the right candidate — not only for her love of cinema.

“She has also dedicated this past year in the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic,” the festival's creative director Jonas Holmberg said to AFP.

“That's also one of the reasons we chose her”. 

Isolated screenings

Boarding the boat dressed in a thick survival suit, Enroth sped over the calm, icy waters, jumping off in the island's tiny harbour and disappearing into her lodgings.

A screen has been set up in the lantern room at the top of the windswept island's lighthouse, offering a 360-degree view of the sea and coastline around.

Another wide screen has been set up in one of the island's buildings.

Enroth will also have a tablet and headphones if she wants to watch films elsewhere on the island, which measures just 250 metres by 150 metres.

With only one other person staying permanently on the island — a safety precaution — Enroth's only contact with the outside world will be through her video diary about the films she has viewed.

The festival's films will be shown online and two venues in Gothenburg itself will allow screenings for just one person at a time.

Holmberg, the festival's creative director, said he hoped events like these would maintain interest in the industry at a time when many screens are closed because of pandemic restrictions.

“We are longing so much to come back to the cinemas and in the meantime we have to be creative and do the things that we can to create discussion,” he told journalists.