A Swedish man has been sentenced to the highest damages ever in Sweden, and possibly in the entire world, for sharing culture: 4.3 million SEK (€475,000) for sharing ONE movie. The movie Beck – Buried Alive, a typical Swedish taxpayer-subsidized B-movie, was uploaded to the culture-sharing hub Swebits. This represents a heavy escalation in the war over sharing knowledge and culture.
The mind-boggling verdict was announced today in the district court of Västerås, a Swedish municipality close to the capital Stockholm. The verdict is said to be based on something worse than the usual “lost-sale” fantasy calculations; it was reportedly based on the list price for buying the full monopoly distribution rights to the movie.
Apart from the utterly and unspeakably insane level of damages, it is remarkable how the taxpayers can pay for a movie and yet not have any rights to it in countries like Sweden. The copyright industry lobby organization, the Rights Alliance, is gloating openly in a press release:
“The high level of damages shows how creators and rightsholders are hurt by illegal file-sharing of a movie”, says Henrik Pontén, lawyer with the Rights Alliance. “We have a number of lawsuits lined up ahead where we will demand damages for one or more movies.”
To counter this lobby propaganda, the youth wing of the Swedish Pirate Party, the Ung Pirat (Young Pirate), is also quoted in Swedish media today:
“Such a harsh punishment for doing something that millions of other Swedish people are doing shows how outdated the legislation is”, says Gustav Nipe, chairman of Young Pirate. “The only road ahead is a radical reform of the copyright mess [Swedish wordplay: Upphovsgröten] to fully allow the sharing of culture.”
At the time of writing, it is unknown if the verdict will be appealed. In the meantime, the risk of being convicted for culture-sharing like this remains considerably less than being hit by lightning, mathematically speaking, despite the copyright industry lobby’s persistent attempts to give a false impression of the actual risk.
Madnesses like these are probably the best election campaign Pirate Parties around the world could possibly get. It’s sad beyond words for the victims of law it takes to wake the public opinion to what’s going on, though, and I’d much rather see the copyright industry killed before it ruins any further lives like today’s verdict.