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'500,000 Swedes' risk jail time for filesharing

TT/The Local/js · 30 Dec 2011, 13:33

Published: 30 Dec 2011 13:33 GMT+01:00

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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.

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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.

TT/The Local/js (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:12 December 30, 2011 by tgolan
I guess the pirate party will get a new lease of life now , it may become one of the largest party's in Sweden

as Sweden allows Prisoners to vote whole in Jail
17:40 December 30, 2011 by fredlave
I guess Sweden has excess prison capacity and the money to pay maintain these miscreants whilst jailed. Making filesharing a criminal offense, as opposed to a civil one with reasonable money damages, benefits no one and will not stop the practice.
18:27 December 30, 2011 by zooeden
Boo hoo, how am I trembling, we are all going to jaiiiiiiil, aaaahahhhhh!!!

What a joke!!!

Keep downloading!!!
23:41 December 30, 2011 by J Jack
It's almost as ridiculous as the alcohol driving limit.
00:10 December 31, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
@tgolan - my thoughts, too. 500,000 new Pirate Party members overnight LOL
00:54 December 31, 2011 by swenrika
We live in a democracy - right ? that means the people make the rules - right ?

I guess 1.4 million people have then just voted for it to be ok :)

Should be taken up like that by the courts then.
19:16 December 31, 2011 by EP
Looks like there's no other serious crime for the police to pursue in Sweden than people downloading free movies.
20:01 December 31, 2011 by johan rebel
If only Swedish prosecutors would put more effort into prosecuting careless hunters who shoot dead innocent passers-by, and if only the courts would convict such killers, instead of wasting everybody's time and money protecting the interests of the music industry, who screwed consumers for decades in the days when everybody had to buy their records and CDs at ridiculous prices.

They might also put a bit more effort into fighting organized crime and the youth gangs terrorizing the streets of invandrarförorterna.
20:48 December 31, 2011 by Grokh
the power of lobby has the balls to try and make a facist law like SOPA on the united states , so of course they want to arrest 14 year old kids for sharing -_-x
04:53 January 1, 2012 by johnoleson
With rapists serving 3 or 4 years rehabilitation and multiple murderers getting a max of 22 years rehabilitation, what would a just sentence be for a file sharer? My guess would be 8 years punishment. Not rehabilitation because file sharers can not be rehabilitated.
13:59 January 1, 2012 by Rebel
When Hollywood speaks, its puppet Obama listens. And when Obama tells the Swedish government to jump, it asks "how high?"
16:21 January 1, 2012 by Liquidmonkey
this is ridiculous.

sweden has little to zero balance with jail sentences.

the WORST rapist in swedish HISTORY has been given 14 years while sharing 20 movies can get you three years?

how is that even remotely fair?

movie and music industry cries EVERY YEAR about file sharing but yet EVERY YEAR they show BIGGEST PROFITS YET!

don't support SOPA and don't support these greedy companies in 2012.

sharing is caring
23:11 January 1, 2012 by hackie
The truth is that file sharing can never stop till eternity. Even, the prosecutors themselves are file sharers themselves. What do want people to use their broadband internet for? To hunt birds online or to check emails? I hate it when people find it difficult to face the reality. Any prosecutor that has not shared or downloaded files online should raise his or her hands up.
07:44 January 2, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Agree with everyone that a fine makes more sense than jail time.

Disagree with everyone that movie or music theft is okay.

Radio, TV, Spotify, movie rentals, or the new movie service that will work like Spotify, are inexpensive ways to enjoy the creative work of others.

Anyone in this blog who has a job where their pay is based on their creative output will understand that it is not appropriate to steal the work of others.
08:22 January 2, 2012 by fxrider
So if one downloads less than 10 movies and less than 1000 music files, its not illegal? lol
09:06 January 2, 2012 by KungsholmenGuy
Still illegal, just not as high in priority, in the same way that minor poluters are less of a concern to environmental law enforcement people than large poluters.

Bizarre that people here forward the argument that since unauthorized file sharing will continue, that it is a waste of time to police it. That is like saying that if cocaine traffiking to your kids in schools will continue, then we should no longer bother to try and stop it. And with regard to the difficulty of policing file sharing, some of you might be surprised to learn how much the police can learn about what you are doing on the internet.

I for one am a bit surprised that the music companies have not flodded the file sharing world with music files and movies that contain viruses that will destroy the contents of your hard disk. But I guess they are worried about legal liability.

As post 14 says, plenty of ways to enjoy movie and music for a modest cost, including the library.
09:39 January 2, 2012 by Valdemaratterdag
Sweden has a knack for attaching fines, fees, or taxes to one's personnummer. It's only a matter of time before the authorities figure out a way to tap into this cash-cow and start charging downloaders for every movie or music file they steal.
10:24 January 2, 2012 by L.A.
13:09 January 2, 2012 by DAVID T
If you don't break the law then you have nothing to worry about.
05:07 January 4, 2012 by Beavis
One day the poeple with put the record companies on trial.. for they are the very people that are destroying music.

They have killed radio by chraging per play, so no new music is risked to play. Nothing CREATIVE is permitted anymore. It must fit their talent TV show shelf life of 3 months sales with high profits for them and zilch for the monkeys that perform.

Meanwhile new music cannot be aired.. cant be shared via radio, via tv or via internet, as the record companies have put a stop to it.

Since the 1960s when they insisted on singles 3 minutes in length. Pirate radio made real music popular again across the world, where DJs could play other music, the Led Zepplins, the Black Sabbaths, the pink floyds all refused to submit to the record companies and their formulas.

New record companies were created but then they got greedy.Death to the scum that are the Record companies.
12:29 January 5, 2012 by BrittInSweden

I think you misunderstand the system.

Music companies own the rights to the music and artists and charge a broadcast fee just like other media does.

New music isn't blocked by anyone. Radio stations tend to play what is selling the most in stores and that is the music that the music companies put out into stores.

If new music is released and can generate those same sales then it would also get played.

Don't blame the music companies for what music is available, blame the people of Sweden (and the world) for buying Pop Idol/X Factor generated music as the record companies are only doing what any business does that wants to generate profits, supply and demand.

Calling businesses greedy for wanting to generate higher profits is just stupid. They are a BUSINESS not a CHARITY.
23:44 January 29, 2012 by janeway
And where are they going to put 500,000 to 1,4 million people? The prisons already in use are full of already convicted criminals and most perps get a suspended sentence or an electronic surveillance device.

Sharing is indeed caring!
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