LIVE: File Sharing Trial in Sollentuna, Sweden

Today [October 17, 2011], a trial against culture sharing took place in Sollentuna, Sweden. A citizen was accused of the “crime” of sharing 45,000 tracks of music. Live coverage took place here and is now concluded.

14:15 A summary of today’s impressions: the defense tried the approach used in Göteborg against the 15-year-old on trial there, claiming that they didn’t know that files would be shared on downloading. As the defense worked in Göteborg, it is conceivable — but impossible to say how likely — that the same defense will work here in Sollentuna. What speaks against it working here would be that the defendant is working as a systems administrator, which may make it hard to claim lack of knowledge of computer and application operations.

11:55 The trial is closed. Verdict will be communicated on October 31 at 11:00 CET.

11:55 The public attorneys claim compensation.

11:53 The defense pounds strongly on the argument that while this sharing may have been negligent, it is not severely negligent leading to criminal responsibility. The defense rests.

11:50 The defense returns to the fact that the defendant has not taken any active action to share anything with the entire world. While the objective facts remain, in terms of what events have taken place, the question of intent or negligence remains important, and that the prosecution has not shown this to be satisfied for a conviction. I see the judges nodding with the defense here — a rare display of body language in a courtroom.

11:48 The defense points out that DC++ is a well-known, well distributed and widely used program (or at least was in 2007, when the events in question happened) that is completely devoid of any warnings of wrongdoing of legality. Therefore, there is no reason for an average person to hear any of their own warning bells ringing.

11:46 The defense returns to the critical point: when looking at the screenshot of the install process of DC++, does the “directory to share” dialog imply understanding of sharing the files in question with the entire world? The defense makes a strong argument for “no”. Besides, the defense points out that there is not any “do not share” alternative to moving on with installation, there is only an “OK” button to move on with the install process.

11:45 The defense attacks the assumed connection between downloading and uploading, and argues that it is not a given in the slightest that everybody — or even people with the defendant’s sysadmin profession at a large governmental agency — is able to assume that the two are automatically connected.

11:43 The defense begins closing arguments.

11:42 The prosecution argues that four to five months of prison would be appropriate for this event. However, he chooses to drop that line of thought and instead applies for a conditional sentence and a day-fine (income-based fine).

11:39 The prosecution goes on to argue at length why there is at least criminal-level neglect and the judges should therefore convict. In closing, he argues that the objective criteria are met, and the subjective are interpreted to be met. As for the sentencing, the prosecution lists a number of examples, and notes that the highest sentence so far was for 3,000 works. This is 15 times more.

11:28 The prosecution moves on to the question of intent, and argues that active intent is not necessary for a conviction; criminal negligence is sufficient. The prosecution holds her profession against her in this case: if you are working as a sysadmin at the Swedish Food and Drug Administration, you are very likely to understand that sharing is taking place, implying convictable negligence.

11:26 The prosecution argues that the crime on trial is a violation of the monopoly on making works available to the public, to the count of 45,000 works of music. There are defenses, the prosecution adds, and tries to explain their nonvalidity one by one. First, the defendant was not at the computer, which the prosecutor argues does not matter.

11:25 The prosecution begins closing arguments.

11:20 The defendant’s criminal history is presented. She has one fine for a nonsense petty charge. Then, a letter is read to the court by … some kind of official. She has a spotless record (no drugs, no alcohol, no nothing) except for a traffic violation (ok, apparently the petty charge was a traffic violation) and that, if convicted, community service would be suitable. She is employed as a systems administrator at the Swedish equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration.

11:17 The defense rests. Next up are the two witnesses. The prosecution notes that the witnesses are only needed for the objective description of the events, which have been agreed on by the defense. Therefore, the witnesses are not needed and are discarded from the trial. A bit of disorder as the rest of the day is replanned; the trial is now expected to conclude before lunch.

11:14 The defense points out that at no point during the DC++ install process are you given the choice to share or not, in terms of Yes or No; you are given the choices “Help”, “Cancel” or “OK” in the install dialogs. There is no “do not share”.

11:09 The defense questions the defendant, first focusing on ownership of the computer and external hard drive which housed the shared files.

11:08 The prosecution rests after asking over and over and over again in different words whether she shouldn’t have understood that files were being shared. The defendant was strong and didn’t break.

10:53 The defendant responds quite coherently and believably, claiming that she had no idea that files were being shared. When asked what she does for a living, it turns out that she is a systems administrator, administering the network of the Swedish Food and Drug Administration. Not good for the lack-of-understanding defense.

10:52 The defendant was at work when the transfers logged happened (at 10:15 in the morning). Therefore, she can’t testify to the truth of the logs, but don’t question them.

10:51 The prosecutor tries to trap the defendant with the hazardous “could you please tell us more details”.

10:50 The defendant agrees to having downloaded a DC++ client, and that the computer in question was used by her. She agrees that she created the user profile in question.

10:45 Trial resumes. Prosecutor questions the defendant.

10:33 Break until 10:45.

10:31 The defense gives a one-minute (!) defense, saying that the computer seized did not belong to the defendant, and repeats that the defendent did not have the technical understanding to realize that sharing was taking place — so there is a lack of mens rea and therefore, no criminal liability exists. There is neither deliberate intent nor criminal negligence.

10:30 The prosecution rests. The defense starts.

10:25 The prosecutor is showing transfer logs in the defendant’s computer that exactly matches what IFPI (the record industry lobby) transferred as part of their copyright monopoly violation charge. Tough defense on this one, even given the prosecutor’s ridiculously nonchalant vagueness.

10:20 The prosecutor has located DC++ logs on the defendant’s computer showing every transfer made. Ouch.

10:16 The prosecutor is also adding that the sound files were not found when the defendant’s house was searched (with a warrant). However, the computer contained the DC++ client, which had the username specified in the logs, and share lists and logs that “approximately” matched what was downloaded by the copyright industry. Ouch. (This is why you should always, always use full-disk encryption. But what was that “approximately”? Did the lists match, or did they not?) The prosecutor explains the discrepancies by the full year that elapsed between IFPI’s download and the house search, without specifying the scope or details or those discrepancies.

10:15 The prosecutor is now describing how the count of 45,000 tracks being shared were basically just a guess. It wasn’t worded like that, but a competent defense would kick the prosecutor all the way to Finland with this.

10:12 The prosecutor clarifies that the monopoly being violated in this trial is not the copyright monopoly, but the so-called neighboring rights that is a copyright-similar monopoly granted to record industries with its roots in fascist-era Italy. (The copyright monopoly goes to composers and performers, never to record labels.)

10:08 The prosecutor uses the DirectConnect client’s account of how much data was shared: 440 gigabytes. To me, that sounds like the entire hard drive was shared. (Later, it turned out to be an external 750-gig hard drive.)

10:07 The trial concerns what happened in the morning of October 23, 2007. That’s four years ago. The copyright industry certainly likes to eat people’s lives away.

10:05 As a matter of principle, I am now downloading the latest episode of Futurama through The Pirate Bay from inside this courtroom.

10:00 Major bad from the defense. The prosecutor claimed 45,000 tracks were shared, which the defense agreed on. Now, the prosecution says that they took samples from the 45k tracks and only actually have proof for “about 50”. They should never have agreed to anything that the prosecutor couldn’t prove, of course. (Note — I have to assume that this was completely intentional and due to previous admissions of the facts at hand.)

09:55 The prosecutor is arguing that the violation of the copyright monopoly should be judged as a public performance (tillgängliggörande) — the defense has a slam dunk here if the defender has been keeping up to date with news on courtroom copyright monopoly (the US Supreme Court ruled that it is not). Now, while the US certainly is not Sweden, it is still relevant.

09:50 Looking at the panel of four judges, the outlook appears bleak. The Swedish District Courts work like this: you have one law-schooled judge, and three politically appointed lay judges. They vote on the verdict. The role of the lay judges is an ability to overrule the lawbook with the public perception of justice (they outnumber the law-schooled judge three to one). Estimating their ages, the four appear aged 75, 45, 40 (the law judge) and 60. In particular, the older lay judge looks puzzled and absolutely lost in space when the prosecutor explains sharing, hubs and DC++.

09:45 The prosecutor starts making his case and starts talking about technology. “There are different kinds of technologies. There is BitTorrent, which we won’t be discussing today, and there is FTP, which we won’t be discussing today, either. This concerns DC++.” He starts a slideshow and starts explaining the DirectConnect protocol.

09:43 The public’s benches in the courtroom are filled to capacity.

09:41 The defendant agrees to having downloaded a limited number of tracks, and agrees to the event description in the charges in an objective sense. Therefore, the trial becomes a matter of asking if the defendant understood that sharing with the world through DC++ was going on — the subjective sense, mens rea. (In a recent trial in Gothenburg, the answer to this question was a resounding no.)

09:38 Charges are presented. The prosecutor claims that the citizen is guilty of having shared these tracks, deliberately or through criminal negligence, and that she should therefore be convicted for violation of the copyright monopoly. The defendant protests these charges, pleads not guilty, and for the purpose of forfeiture of the computer used, that computer does not belong to her.

09:37 Courtroom reopens. Audio broadcast is allowed with an exception for the deposition of the defendant.

09:35 The judges note that Young Pirate wishes to broadcast audio and that this needs to be formally approved by the judges in private, with input from the parties. The prosecutor does not object; the defendant does not wish to have her deposition broadcast. The courtroom is emptied for deliberations.

09:30 Witnesses are being named. They are all from the copyright industry. It appears this will take all day (and my coverage may not).

09:25 The trial starts. The accused culture sharer, judges, prosecutor, and defender enters the courtroom. So do we. Anna Troberg is staying outside the courtroom with media, listening to our audio feed from inside.

09:20 This trial can also be seen as insignificant as it relates to DC++- or Napster-type sharing: BitTorrent technology completely negates the ability of the copyright industry to press charges for thousands of pieces of shared culture. We are still waiting to enter the courtroom; the four judges can be seen deliberating inside.

09:15 This trial is significant because of the scale of the charges. Never before has somebody been on trial for sharing 45,000 tracks. Therefore, it can be seen as a strategic event for the copyright industry to raise the punishments handed out. Young Pirate is also reporting from the trial under the Twitter tag #trialtour.

09:10 The prosecutor, Fredrik Ingblad, is on location. He is the copyright industry’s strongman against families in this area.

09:05 The trial start has been postponed to 09:20. The citizen accused of this non-crime and her defender has arrived.

09:00 Trials are starting all across the courthouse. This one should be called on the PA any minute.

08:50 Media, the Pirate Party and its youth wing Young Pirate is on location. The trial starts in ten minutes.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. Spitz

    Unfortunately, one bad decision has been made by Swedish court last week. The Stockholm District Court sentence against Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm was finalized after he failed to appear at the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal has now decided to finalize the initial verdict of one year jail time and a fine of $1.1 million!

  2. David Xanatos

    I think it would be much more convenient to read when the time line would be reversed, meaning the latest things at the bottom.

  3. Chris Helenius


    Not here please 🙁

  4. Chris Helenius

    «10:15 […] but a competent defense would kick the prosecutor all the way to Finland with this.»

    I guess this thought the chevrons were meant to be HTML-formatting.

  5. Trialtour besökte Attunda tingsrätt «

    […] Rick har skrivit om dagens händelse här. […]

  6. -

    A followup with a summary would be nice. This is too much too read for me.

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  12. Internet User

    She’s a fifty-eight year old woman, and the prosecution (which should be called a plaintiff as they aren’t a government body, but perhaps Swedish terminology is different) feels that a four to five year prison sentence would be appropriate?

    Regardless of any opinions I have about copyright needing some serious reform, I think not.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      It is a criminal trial, so yes, it is prosecution. If it had been a civil trial, it would have been the plaintiff. Also, civil trials do not have the authority to hand out prison sentences, only to collect monetary damages.

      Four to five months, not years. But even a change of factor twelve doesn’t really change my opinion.

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