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Swedish ISP seeks EU file sharing ruling

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17:22 CEST+02:00
Swedish broadband operator Comhem wants a district court to seek the advice of the EU Court of Justice over an anti-file sharing law (Ipred) case, after the Supreme Court indicated that a test case was destined for Luxembourg.

The case dates to back to a report from the Swedish arm of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) in December 2009 calling on Comhem to reveal the identity of a "quite normal" file sharer.

Comhem refused, arguing that existing EU legislation data storage legislation only obliges ISPs to divulge user information to the law enforcement agencies and not to private actors.

Comhem has now cited a June ruling by the Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta Domstolen - HD) concerning a case between five audiobook publishers and the Swedish ISP ePhone, arguing that its case its identical.

The court's request for the parties involved to submit their view on whether it is necessary to send the matter for a preliminary ruling to the European Court, was interpreted by experts to mean that the ePhone case was headed for the EU.

This is a process that can take years and the Ifpi has now argued that Comhem is just seeking to delay the legal process.

"We regret Comhem's position. We consider the legal situation to be so clear that it is unnecessary to ask the EU-Court for advice," Ifpi's CEO Lars Gustafsson told the TT news agency.

The Ipred law, implemented in Sweden on April 1st 2009, gave copyright holders the right to force internet service providers to reveal details of users sharing files, paving the way for legal action that could see downloaders pay hefty damages and fines.

After an initial drop in internet traffic attributed to a decline in file sharing, the practice soon bounced back and by December 2009 had returned to record levels in with up to 8 percent of the Swedish population reported to be actively partaking.

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