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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