Swedish Courts Coming To Senses: €200 Filesharing Fine

gavel

Swedish courts may be slowly coming to their senses regarding noncommercial violations of the copyright monopoly. In a verdict yesterday, a 26-year-old in Uppsala, Sweden was sentenced to pay a €200 fine for actively sharing 44 copyrighted works in classic filesharing.

The verdict is in stark contrast to the political verdict in the Pirate Bay trial, where four people were sentenced to long prison sentences and paying €3,500,000 for merely aiding in possibly sharing 33 works. The Pirate Bay verdict has been appealed and is on its way to the Swedish Supreme Court and possibly the European Court of Justice. But then again, they were not judged for aiding and abetting, they were judged for talking back. That trial was political from day one and was a travesty on justice.

Anyway. A couple more verdicts like this and we can relegate the scrapheap of copyright to history’s junkyard.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Falkvinge, Medieskugga.se, lillebrorsan, Scab, Urban Sundstrom and others. Urban Sundstrom said: RT @Falkvinge Swedish Courts Coming To Senses: €200 Filesharing Fine http://is.gd/tgUjJ7 #copyright #infopolicy #sweden […]

  2. Tor

    If the SR article is right, aren’t you then comparing fines (this case) to damages (TPB case)? One could of course argue that the damages in the TPB case was a harsher penalty than the prison sentence, but still…

    It would be interesting to learn if these files were made available to the public in such a way that the number of people being able to easily access them was comparable to that of the TPB case. In that case it would be difficult to explain the discrepancy between the outcomes. I hope someone will upload the verdict as a pdf file.

    1. 26-Uppsala

      I hope not that someone will upload the verdict as a pdf. As i am the “26 year old from Uppsala”. :)

      1. Tor

        Your name is of no public interest, so if someone uploads it I hope they can black it out. Btw. maybe a good way to stop your name from getting out would be to do this yourself. 😉

      2. Rick Falkvinge

        Tor is absolutely right here. The best way to be in control of material is to be the first and best source.

    2. Rick Falkvinge

      Tor: The difference between “damages” and “fines” is an entirely artificial one within the justice system. For the person on the receiving end of the verdict, it’s money to be paid and that’s the end of it.

      1. Tor

        Sure – for the person on the receiving end it doesn’t make much difference. But your blog post title could be misleading for someone who does not pay attention to this difference since it seems to imply that we’re talking about the same thing. After all, if it had been a civil lawsuit, then maybe the damages would have been very high. We cannot know that.

      2. Björn Persson

        Tor: “After all, if it had been a civil lawsuit, then maybe the damages would have been very high.”

        It would be quite remarkable if the same kind of actions would be judged differently by several orders of magnitude depending on whether they are brought up as a civil or criminal case.

      3. ANNM

        Björn:
        It would be completely different things that were judged. Fines are a punishment (hence it’s often adapted to the income of the defendant in the form of “dagsböter”, so that it’s equally harsh for rich and poor), damages are supposed to cover whatever the loss of the plaintiff is deemed to be, regardless of the seriousness of the crime.

      4. Rick Falkvinge

        ANNM, that difference is still artificial within the justice system. It is irrelevant to the one on the receiving end of the verdict, and as politicians, that experience is what must be used as a measure — not what can or cannot be done within the system. Politicians write the laws, there is nothing that can’t be done.

        Saying that it’s completely different concepts is like saying that it’s completely different if a Ming vase or a lunch plate dropped on the floor and broke. Perhaps to the administrator holding the budget, but to the guy who has to clean up the mess, there is no difference at all.

  3. ANNM

    The “standard” fine for small-scale filesharing in Sweden has been 80 “dagsböter”, a unit that is variable and should match one day’s income for the defendant. The minimum value is 50 SEK (used for people with no daily income, such as students and unemployed) so for a total of 2000 SEK the fine is at most 40 dagsböter, i.e. half the usual value. Which is very interesting.

  4. Johan

    It would indeed be interesting to know how many “dagsböter” the 26-year old was sentenced to pay.

  5. 26-Uppsala

    I don’t know yet how many “dagsböter” i got, because i haven’t received the verdict paper yet. But what i could understand from my lawyer’s secretary and UNT (newspaper that called me for an interview), is that the verdict was just in 2-3 rows and didn’t say very much at all. And Henrik Rasmusson (prosecutor) told me after the court hearing that he would appeal against the verdict if i got “dagsböter”, because he wanted me to get “probation”, or what it’s called in english (villkorlig dom).

    1. ANNM

      For the english-readers: “suspended sentence”.

  6. 26-Uppsala

    The newspaper UNT wrote today that the judge wanted me to get a “12800SEK” fine, but he was voted down by the others. As i can see 12800 would have been “dagsböter” 80 á 160SEK.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Does this mean that the verdict was 25 “dagsböter” at SEK 160 each, or that the verdict was a SEK 2000 fine as a lump sum?

      Both are interesting, but the latter is particularly interesting as it is the lowest possible kind of penalty. It’s equivalent to speeding some 10 km/h above the limit on the highway.

      The former would be interesting from the perspective that it’s at the lower lower end of the scale, making it — again — signal that this is hardly a crime at all.

      Cheers,
      Rick

      1. ANNM

        It’s also interesting if UNT is correct ant the judge wanted the “standard” fine (80 dagsböter) but was outvoted by the lay judges (nämndemän), who are appointed by the political parties and very often members of the parties. It would reflect the sentiments that pirate party members often report from discussions with the grassroots of other parties – they don’t see copyright infringement as a serious crime any more than the general population do, it’s only the party leadership (especially in the government and the social democrats) that does.

      2. Rick Falkvinge

        ANNM: That would actually be a sign that the political system with laymen judges works. Their role is to counterweigh the lawyer judge with common sense from the streets.

        Increasingly, I get the sense that it’s primarily lawyers who are losing grip with reality. Politicians are just ducking the issue and passing the buck, so while they may be ignorant in the truest sense of the word, they are at least not living in a dream world.

      3. ANNM

        According to Wikipedia ( http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagsb%C3%B6ter ) the smallest amount of “dagsböter” that can be given as a fine is 30, so it couldn’t be 25. I can’t find the actual legal text though.

        Also 25 * 160 = 4000, not 2000. If the defendant’s net daily income is actually around 160 SEK, there is no way that a fine that totals 2000 could be “dagsböter” (if 30 is indeed the minimum).

  7. @adambanksdotcom

    @IPThinkTank @copyrightgirl Hmm, Pirate Party’s Falkvinge refuses fines/damages distinction – silly http://bit.ly/fKmyhh (comments)

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