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TeliaSonera appeals anti-piracy ruling

Swedish telecom firm TeliaSonera has announced its intention to appeal to the Supreme Court (Högsta Domstolen) an anti-piracy law ruling ordering the firm to hand over the names and addresses of people behind a file sharing website.

“What we have done today is to announce to the public that we will appeal,” Patrik Hiselius, the senior adviser of public affairs of the Swedish-Finnish firm told AFP, adding the company had until June 7th to submit its appeal.

The Appeals Court (Hovrätten) on Monday upheld a lower court’s ruling forcing TeliaSonera to hand over to Svensk Filmindustri, a Swedish film production and

distribution company, among others, the names and addresses of people behind

the swetorrents.org website.

The appeals court said its ruling against TeliaSonera was based on Sweden’s

controversial Ipred law, which came into effect on April 1st last year and gives copyright holders the right to require service providers to reveal details of users who share files, paving the way for legal action.

TeliaSonera said it was taking the case to the supreme court in the name of

customer privacy.

“For us it is very important to have the highest court look into the principle of balancing the new (Ipred) legislation vis-a-vis our basic industry provisions regarding confidentiality of communication,” Hiselius said.

“The legislation protecting confidentiality of communication and thus the privacy of our customers has been around for years and years and is fundamental within our industry,” he added.

Until the law was introduced, Sweden – home to one of the world’s most popular file sharing sites, The Pirate Bay – had widely been considered a haven for illegal file sharing.

While Swedish Internet use significantly dropped in the days after the introduction of the law – attributed to a decline in illegal downloading – the fall was only temporary, according to internet exchange point operator Netnod.

According to a Sifo survey published by broadcaster Viasat on April 1st the number of illegal file sharers is in fact increasing, with 16 percent of Swedes responding that they engaged in the practice.

While Netnod figures for April 2010 show that the short dip was part of a longer term steady upward trend, Ipred has been lauded by the music, film and video games industries.

Ipred has been lauded by the music, film and video games industries but staunchly criticised by Sweden’s Pirate Party and civil liberties groups, which want to legalise

Internet file sharing and beef up web privacy.

The new file sharing law is based on the European Union’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED).

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COPYRIGHT

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.”