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Horrific: Two Years, Heavy Fine For 60-Year-Old Music File Sharer

42

Copyright Monopoly

Copyright Monopoly

Today, the verdict was announced in the case of Uppsala, Sweden, where a 60-year-old had shared 2,880 music tracks on a DirectConnect hub. The man was sentenced to two years of conditional jail, and fined for 40 days’ worth of his income (day fine).

Two years in jail is the maximum sentence under Swedish law for ignoring the distribution monopoly on culture. Swedish Public Radio reports on the verdict (in Swedish). This is just insane beyond words.

Not surprisingly, the Swedish Pirate Party leader, Anna Troberg, doesn’t pull punches in her comments.

Media downplays the verdict somewhat, as the jail sentence was conditional (equivalent to probation), but that doesn’t matter from a legal standpoint — while the man will probably never set foot in jail, that was because of his specific circumstances.

Here are some other recent verdicts in Sweden, just for scale:

…and, apparently, sharing your favorite music: two years, although on probation in this case.

I have no words. This needs to come to senses. The copyright monopoly needs to dismantle, the worst pieces first. One of those worst pieces is obviously the one that could put a man in jail for two years for sharing music.

Two years ago, when these and similar laws were written, I said that the politicians are acting like drunken blindfolded elephants trumpeting about in an egg packaging facility. Now, we are starting to see the results.

If this is not enough to cause an uproar of “enough is enough!”, then what is?

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About The Author: Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

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42

  1. [...] P3 Nyheter, Rick Falkvinge, Det här inlägget postades i domslut, Internet, lagar, Piratpartiet, Politik, upphovsrätt, [...]

  2. 2
    Nejtillobbyister

    Perhaps “manslaughter” is a better term than “homicide” in the first bullet point, otherwise I completely agree with you.

    • 2.1
      Rick Falkvinge

      Manslaughter typically translates to the Swedish Dråp, which is a more serious offense.

      I actually looked through several legal encyclopediae, and the best match for vållande till annans död appears to be negligent homicide. In cleartext, causing somebody’s death through ignorance at a criminal level — through inaction and not through action.

  3. 3
    Herodes

    Why don’t we all go to court and confess we are file sharers! (Who is Spartacus? I am, I am ,….)
    A couple of million file sharers(in Sweden alone) at once confessing might be a bit more than they could chew.

    The tactics of the copyright monopolies is a scare tactics and by attacking us one on one we are defenseless.

    • 3.1
      Downloader, 50 yrs

      Yes, if we all confess downloading at once, the music industry will have to face the reality of charging more or less their entire customer base.

  4. 4
    christoffer

    some more comparisons in swedish

    lite intresannta jämförelser med andra brott och straffen.
    sex månaders villkorligt fängelse för sexuellt utnyttjande av barn
    http://hbl.fi/nyheter/2011-08-16/villkorligt-sex-med-tonaring
    En osedvanligt stor mängd barnpornografiskt material…… sammanlagt närmare tusen cd- och dvd-skivor..
    ett års och fem månaders villkorligt fängelse. Han ålades också att betala 60 dagsböter på sammanlagt 840 euro
    http://www.abounderrattelser.fi/news/2011/08/villkorligt-fangelse-och-boter-for-barnporr.html
    grovt dödsvållande, grovt vållande av personskada och grovt rattfylleri…..
    ett år och åtta månaders villkorligt fängelsestraff
    http://svenska.yle.fi/nyheter/artikel.php?id=224243

  5. 5
    Sad

    Det här är sorgligt.
    Den här mannen får alltså längre straff än den person som körde ihjäl två av mina familjemedlemar…
    Någonting är fel… riktigt fel…

  6. 6
    Peter

    Odd that they don’t include the death penalty for jaywalking or riding a bike without a helmet whilst being under the age of 15. Seems appropriate in relation to this verdict.

    I can fell nothing but being helpless and panicking over how Sweden has degraded. It use to be a country I was proud of. Now I’m embarrassed for being swedish and I start to understand why extremists do what they do. Hope that this won’t be needed before the government is replaced with intelligent, humane and understanding people.Horrible, unlawful abuse of the justice system.

    • 6.1
      ItHurts

      It’s not just Sweden, It’s just as bad if not worse here in the U.S. Welcome to the corrupt Global Police State!

      “Ignorance may be bliss, but it is the biggest threat to any free nation or people”

  7. 7
    jeffer

    Copyright is a fanatical statement. It should be considered a voluntary lifestyle for the individual to accept or reject, just like other kinds of religion. And like religion it has no place in the lawbooks, other than the simple natural right of freedom of religion.

    Where governments seriously enforce religion by laws, police, persecutors and judges, terror is the eventual and inevitable result.

  8. 8
    Aatu

    Remind me never ever to buy a record again in my life.

  9. 9

    Well, folks, shall we try and discuss this reasonably ? I’m a musician, sometimes a composer. I make my living by working on, mostly, recorded music. I spent 20 years or so gigging, have had some success in the ‘music biz’ as most people would view it, but most of my income is made by writing music for the ‘media’ market, film, TV, etc.

    I’d rather write music- good, interesting, instrumental music- for the ‘consumer’ market (ie, ‘records’ as they used to be known) but these days it’s simply impossible. I can’t afford it. This is because I’d prefer to use real musicians, recorded well, in a good studio, not a laptop on a kitchen table. This means I can’t just throw a bunch of loops together from a sample cd copied from a mate, on a cheap computer, with cracked software, upload it to Beatport, offer it to the world for free, and think, ‘job done’ .

    It costs money. Real money. Thousands of £… Which in the old days was provided, in my case, by indie labels (not majors) who would take a punt on my work and fund it. Sometimes it paid off and we all made a profit. Sometimes it didn’t. But it worked well enough, and a lot of very good music has been made that way.

    Now- all that’s gone. It’s up to the musician to find the money, to do all the promo, take all the risk, and inevitably, just like the labels used to, we have to look at the bottom line (and all our other life commitments- we have them, just as you do, kids, mortgage etc) and decide whether we’re going to take that risk, or not. In a world where the default position for the consumer is NOT to pay for the music, this is obviously not a risk a lot of us will take. Yes, recording software is cheaper than it used to be, and distribution and promotion a lot easier. The net really has helped the DIY musician in many ways.

    Yet … it has also pretty much denied many of us the chance of recording, and releasing, any kind of music that isn’t electronic, or at least dirt cheap to make. We may get the chance to let people hear it, but we don’t get the chance, anymore, of making a living from it. Most of us aren’t the big earners on the big labels. We’re the little guys, the lesser known people making, often, the most interesting music, doing it for love, not fame, or fortune. We’ve always lived on minimum wage, now we’re living off … not a lot, at all, or in my case, eking out a living writing bullshit music for media. Because we have to.

    This isn’t about ‘copyright’, let alone copyright as ‘religion’. It’s about musicians getting paid for the pleasure we give to others, via our recorded work. Why should we, unlike just about everyone else, NOT be paid our work ? Most of us, contrary to popular opinion, cannot make a living from gigs, T shirt sales, or any of the other ‘marketing’ ideas so often thrown out as a replacement for income from recorded music. We need that income, to provide the time, and the money, to carry on making good music.

    So remember, next time you’re paying a visit to one of the many sites out there hosting links to my music, and the music of so many others. That sub fee you’re paying for using the site is going to some russian mafia mogul, not to the people who made the music. Is that really any better than the ‘copyright monopoly’ of the record labels you complain about ?

    There’s no way I want to sue all filesharers, that would be ridiculous. If I had enough money to go on making the music I’d like to make, i wouldn’t care, anyway. The more who hear my music, the better. But when, it seems, up to 95% of them are getting it for free, and the income I get from other 5% just doesn’t even cover a fraction of the costs, the simple fact is … I’m not going to make any records. The music is not going to get made. And I know I’m not the only one.

    So. Check out the musicians, bands, and artists whose music you really, really like. Go the their own sites, and buy direct from them, as far as possible. You get round all the label bullshit, all the copyright bullshit, and get the maximum amount possible direct to the artist. It shows respect, and your hope that maybe they’ll be able to make some more of that good stuff.

    Or maybe you won’t be getting any more of that good stuff.

    It’s your choice.

    • 9.2

      I definitely sympathize with you, if only 5% of your audience is paying for the music, and the other 95% are actually enjoying listening to it (not saying you probably aren’t a great musician – but some people might not like it) then yes, that is unfair.

      The other side of the coin is that hardcore “pirates” are actually more likely to buy music they enjoy. I personally download a lot of music and movies, just to see if I like it first – because it simply isn’t worth my $20 an album if I only like 1 song on it. If I happen to like the artist, I support them by buying their music/promo materials/going to live shows.

      Pirates are a huge untapped market for a lot of musicians, using bittorrent to advertise is a great way to get your name out – If you can go to a label and say – hey, I’ve got an audience/fanbase of over 100K people(through bittorrent) – they will probably give you a shot.

      Jake Daynes
      Pirate Party of Canada

      • 9.2.1

        It’s one I’ve tried, Jake, though the problem is getting any kind of reliable info. Yes, i can point to torrents where sometimes I’ll see 10,000 + links from where my music can be downloaded- and if you multiply that across all the torrents, it looks as if there could be 100k or so, but of course a lot of those links are probably pointing to the same places, so it’s probably less. Nor do we have any way of knowing how many copies have been downloaded but are not being offered, just sitting on a drive somewhere.

        A lot of the sites are run by deeply unsavoury people, too, and that aspect is not good, any way you want to call it. These are the same people jamming your inbox with spam, and they’re making a lot of money out of us through sub fees and using it to fund god know what. For all the anti-label and anti-corporate rhetoric, filesharers should remember that money IS being made by illegal filesharing, but not by musicians. It’s criminals walking off with it.

        So going to a label and pointing to your torrent ‘sales’ – which have brought in no money at all, isn’t of interest to the labels. They want to see your legal numbers from iTunes or self-made CDs, and for most of us, they’re a joke. It’s a 100-1 ratio of torrent numbers to legal numbers. If you can’t show definite, serious, legal profit from your own activity, it’s no deal.

        This is the point I’m trying to get across. Sure, us oldsters copied onto cassette back in the 70s, and a certain amount of copying has always been there. But now it’s the default. It’s the basic. It’s what everybody does, with just a tiny rump still paying. OK, I accept that it’s not going to change, and I don’t want, either, to go back to dealing with labels and their bullshit. I’m just asking for a few more people to consider actually paying for something they enjoy, because it makes a big, real, difference, at this end, I can tell you.

        Especially in any genre that’s actually about music, not hype, bling, and bullshit. This new world of ours favours the pushy, the spammer, the marketing guru, and forces musicians to be more ‘commercial’ in their thinking than ever before. We’re told to make money out of everything related to the music, but not the music itself. So that’s where the effort goes, into the net marketing, the email list, all the hype and noise and bullshit … not the music. I don’t see this how this a good thing.

    • 9.3
      ANNM

      And yet more music is being written and recorded today than ever before in the history of the world, electronic and otherwise. Whether there is more good music is a matter of taste – there is certainly more crap, of course, but that’s because the threshold for recording and publishing is lower. In terms of diversity of style the situation is infinitely better than it was 30 or 20 or even 10 years ago.

      Some people make money from their music, most do not. Some genres and types of music become harder or more expensive to record, most get much cheaper. For a talented multi-instrumentalist the cost of decent recording equipment is negligible – certainly not more than a decent guitar or keyboard. Filesharing on a massive scale has been around for more than a decade, and there is still much more music being recorded today than ever before. I doubt very much that it’s going to change.

    • 9.4
      Downloader, 50 yrs

      We are living in a world of change. I saw a brilliant example: Just a century ago, the largest company in Stockholm distributed ice. There where lots of people distributing ice to ice boxes around the city.
      Then came the electric fridge and the entire ice industry died.
      A century ago, they sold a lot of horse whips. Then came the car. Now the horse whip sales is down to a minimum. Only the best of the best whip makers survived.
      Half a century ago, there where lots of movie theatres. Then came the TV. Oddly enough, the best movie theatres remained and still do. But with the home movie theatre revolution, they now are starting to die.
      We are living in a world of change.
      The old record companies are dying. Perhaps some, less appreciated, music will be impossible to make and distribute commercially. Perhaps other music is marketed via Bittorrent and YouTube, building a market for itself. Perhaps new distribution channels will emerge. Perhaps…
      All we can do, is to adapt to the flow.
      What would it be like, if all the distributors of ica would have charged or sued all people with electric ice boxes (refrigerators) just because they wouldn’t deliver ice to them anymore? It didn’t happen then, but it is happening now…

    • 9.5
      Mumfi.

      You say you want to be paid for you work just like everybody else. I say you should be paid just like everybody else. That´s why we should remove copyright; so you have to find a market, just as everybody else.

      No one else gets paid for unsolicited work. Just because others enjoy and appreciate your work does not give you a right to get paid. Find customers willing to pay or do something else. If you can’t do what you love for money, do something someone wants to pay for and use the money to do the thing you love. There was music before copyright and it will be after. If it means only those who love their work enough to to do it for free will do it, so be it. If it means less music, at least it will be made for love and not for money.

      • 9.5.1

        Believe you me, no one in their right mind would ever have lived off so little money as I have, for the past thirty years, if I wasn’t doing it for love. But what you fail to recognise is that holding down the kind of job that would fund the kinds of projects I’m talking about wouldn’t allow any time to actually make it. Love is not enough. It can get you a long way there, but finding thousands of pounds, and especially the TIME, to do it, has to come from some kind of income that’s directly related to the activity.

        In a perfect world, yes, it would be lovely to sit around, la la la, make music, and let you all enjoy and appreciate it for free. But this isn’t a perfect world. Traditionally, music has always been paid for, however ‘unsolicited’, by someone, popes, kings, arts councils, and more recently, the consumer. There has always been an understanding, a trade, between those who listened to it, and those who made it. Somewhere along the line, the musician got paid, by those who enjoyed the work. Yes, technology has now allowed that agreement to be suspended by the listener, who now claims a moral right to do so because of the technology.

        Well, technology, in the form of a gun, allows me the ability to go out and shoot anyone, yet 1, I don’t do it, and 2 I don’t claim any kind of right to do so, just because the technology exists.

        If you remove (as has, basically, happened) copyright, you also remove the ‘market’ I’m supposed to find and be ‘like everybody else’. There is, in the end, no business model that competes with free. So you’re asking us to commit thousands of pounds and years of our lives to do something we just can’t afford to do, however much we love it. It’s not about loving our work enough to do it for free. We not doing it for free- we’re doing at a massive loss we just can’t afford. You get it for free. We pay, and heavily, for it.

        • Just an observation: It was in fact technology that made it possible to charge for recordings in the first place. Before recording and printing technology, there was no such thing as copyright. Then came technology. Large and expensive technology, printing pesses etc. Things that were heavy on investments, and easy to keep track of without invading everybodys privacy. Technology that fitted well with the practice of copyright. Copyright laws that were easy to uphold and reasonably equally applied on all offenders in that technological environment.

          But the world have moved on and now we have means available to everyone to do the copying themselves. The consequence is that such laws cannot be upheld by any reasonable actions as they have no real connection to what people in general thing is reasonable. Copyright as a business model now is like a carpenter trying to charge for each time someone passes through a door he’s made. In theory he could try, but in reality he would be a fool to try making that work.

          People in general doesn’t love what they do for a living, they do their work because someone promised to pay them for it.

          Yes, there are probably a lot of work that people would like to do and that other people really would appreciate, but, in spite of that, that isn’t done because nobody is actually willing to pay enough money for it to make a living for someone.

          Probably there were scribes that became unemployed when Gutenberg invented the printing press, and they were probably wonderful artists, but not enough people were any more interested in paying for that artistery. Also, I know that in the early 1900’s musicians were fighing against the recording industry because the people played records at dances, accepting low quality, instead of hiring musicians.

          What I am saying is that a) It has never really been easy to live on artistery of any kind when changes occur, and b) The technology always sets the framework for what can be a job that you can earn money on.

          It is sad if the technical advancement makes it impossible to make a living of composing quality music, but that possibility maybe lasted only during a technological window that was open for something like maybe 80 years. Before that it was performances that was way for musicians to put food on the table, and maybe that is what we are going back to now when that window is closing unless musicians and the music business adapts to the realities of “the real world”.

          Copyright can never be the answer to this problem, as that would require tearing down all the communication systems that we have learned to love and use, and that have given us so much valuable contact and understanding between people, and that have such a potential for letting people take part in society.

          That is the real issue here as I see it, closing down internet is the only real alternative if we want to protect copyright in its absurd incarnation it has today, because sharing experiences with each other is an inherintley human thing, that we will do whenever it is possible, and that includes cultural artefacts like music and movies. (Keeping some kind of copyright for commercial use is something completely differnt, that can be enforced without stopping individual people from communicating.)

          And even closing internet wont really help any more since technology offers smaller and faster memories all the time, Already now I can carry ALL the music I owned 25 years ago on an USB stick that can be copied to a friend in less that 30 minutes in good quality. You can’t really fight that unless you want dictatorship, a police state and a technological standstill.

    • 9.6
      Mårten

      The second it was possible to make perfect copies and distribute them around the world for free the companies who traditionally performed this service by making physical copies in factories and shipping them with boats and trucks around the globe became obsolete. Now they are putting children and grandparents in jail because they want to continue selling plastic discs.

      From personal experience, I know that the amount of money I and my friends spent on music went up drastically when napster came out. Suddenly it was possible to find new interesting music at home instead of at the local hipster music store with their abysmal selection. What we actually liked we could then order online. I’m certain we bought more music than we would have otherwise, and several market studies point in the same direction. The same is true for film. So if it is small independent artist you worry about they have everything to win from this development even if they can’t get paid per copy.

      Besides, a major part of my music collection is actually written and performed by dead people.

      Most people can only dream about getting paid for working with their hobby professionally all day. Not to mention getting paid over and over again, for the same work, long past ones death! And, this may seem harsh, but sadly it’s not a right to get paid. It’s not like anyone is being forced to work for free.

      Maybe society have to subsidize artist in some way but a copyright-monopoly is not the right way to do it.

    • 9.7
      steelneck

      I do not know from wich country you are tomafd, but the people of sweden have never ever in history spent so much money on culture as we do today. So if artists are “starving” under those conditions, some middle men are obviously robbing them blind.

  10. 10
    Mårten

    As a swede, it’s what I have come to expect from the “justice” system these days. The saddest part is how it undermine the faith in the system as a whole. If armed robbery, rape and homicide is considered less serious than sharing your music collection then the message clearly is that those things are not so bad after all… It’s so completely out of touch with reality… :(

  11. 11
    jeffer

    tomafd

    Incentives for creators and artists can be arranged without the present dogmatic copyright regime.

    Direct contributions to the creators we like is one very satisfying way. Like the Indie Humble Bundle. And there are numerous other possible ways like monetized pool systems.

    But all reasonable solutions are cut off by repression and ever more repression. Eventually religion will meet religion.

    but I hope for a secular solution…

  12. 12
    Anonymous

    Next time it might be good to talk to a lawyer before you try to explain the Swedish legal system. A conditional sentence may be imposed by the court for a crime as soon as the sanction of a fine is considered inadequate, if there are no reasons to fear that the accused will continue the criminal activity. The time for a conditional sentence is not set in relation to the severity of the crime, it Is always two years (by law). Instead, it is the number of day-fines that indicate how long an alternative sentence of imprisonment would have been. Given the fact that the court only combined the conditional sentence with 40 day-fines, it is likely that an alternative sentence would have been two or three months imprisonment. This means that if the person in question would commit another crime within the two year period, the conditional sentence might be replaced by a sentence of a few months imprisonment.

  13. [...] Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge puts things in perspective on his blog, and notes that other crimes such as sexual abuse of a child, rape and armed robbery have lower [...]

  14. [...] wrote about how a Swedish court acquitted a 15-year-old for file sharing some movies, today a court gave a 60-year-old man two years of conditional jail time along with a pretty large fine. The "conditional" jailtime appears to be like a form of probation, [...]

  15. 13
    /A

    @tomafd

    I suggest you find new ways to finance your music production, after all we do not live in the 20th century any longer. The Internet has brought to you unlimited ways to get your music out to the world and also unlimited ways to get it financed, as long as you pull out your head from the sand and look into the future. Take a look at http://www.kickstarter.com/ to get an idea how you can do it.

    /A

  16. [...] man was sentenced to two years in prison for copyright infringement in that country, according to a blog posting by Pirate Party founder Rick [...]

  17. [...] man was sentenced to two years in prison for copyright infringement in that country, according to a blog posting by Pirate Party founder Rick [...]

  18. [...] man was sentenced to two years in prison for copyright infringement in that country, according to a blog posting by Pirate Party founder Rick [...]

  19. [...] man was sentenced to two years in prison for copyright infringement in that country, according to a blog posting by Pirate Party founder Rick [...]

  20. [...] man was sentenced to two years in prison for copyright infringement in that country, according to a blog posting by Pirate Party founder Rick [...]

  21. [...] man was sentenced to two years in prison for copyright infringement in that country, according to a blog posting by Pirate Party founder Rick [...]

  22. [...] man was sentenced to two years in prison for copyright infringement in that country, according to a blog posting by Pirate Party founder Rick [...]

  23. 14
    PiratGurra

    Well, certainly 2 years is far too much for sharing files on the internet. But actually those crimes of violence mentioned are way more far off (too low), in my opinion.

    There’s not much of “justice” to be had in today’s Sweden if you are a victim (or relative to a victim) of a really severe crime.

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Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

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