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'500,000 Swedes' risk jail time for filesharing

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'500,000 Swedes' risk jail time for filesharing
13:33 CET+01:00
Up to half a million Swedes who have illegally downloaded as few as ten movies could be be charged with crimes punishable by time in prison, according to precedents set by prosecutors in recent filesharing cases.

In the past, sentencing guidelines for filesharing offences have been unclear, but rulings handed down in 2011 have resulted in prosecutors developing a precedent where it has become clear when the offence is punishable by a prison sentence.

"We're talking about 10 to 20 movies or a thousand music files, that's about where the limit is normally when I think we're talking about prison," prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson told the TT news agency.

Recent rulings in filesharing case have provided guidance on how much copyrighted material can be shared before prosecutors seek to have suspected offenders sent to prison.

Despite the fact that millions of Swedes violate the law by filesharing, only a few have been convicted.

In light of several recent court cases concerning illegal filesharing, the Sweden's justice minster has appointed two prosecutors to handle filesharing cases.

During the past year, the prosecutors have successfully prosecuted about a dozen cases resulting in convictions for file sharing violations.

While some offenders have managed relatively large-scale, filesharing hubs, many "ordinary" Swedes have also been convicted.

Penalties have ranged from fines to suspended sentences equivalent to time in prison.

“We estimate that the suspended sentences have so far corresponded to a sentence of up to one to three months in prison,” said Rasmusson.

An estimated 1.4 million Swedes engage in illegal filesharing, according to recent figures from Statistics Sweden.

Lund University researcher Måns Svensson estimates that roughly one third or filesharers are active enough to risk being sentenced to prison in convicted.

"But there isn't any real threat of prison for these filesharers. In part because prosecutors lack the resources to investigate, and in part because there isn't a social acceptance to pursue legal action against half a million Swedes for a crime which the average person doesn't view as especially serious," Svensson told TT.

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