Swedish Man Sentenced to Half-Million Euro In Damages For Sharing ONE Movie

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“Such a harsh punishment for doing something that millions of other Swedish people are doing shows how outdated the legislation is”, says Gustav Nipe, chairman of Young Pirate.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.

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. Analyst

    OK. Therefore Swedish court has convinced me to never visit Sweden.
    Why the fuck you want to terrorist win anyway? Is whistling somewhere else than on a way to bank still legal or is that terrorism or hatespeed.
    Sorry to all Swedes, try keep your gov/police/courts on some remblace of check, othevice you lose money…

  2. Assange rulez

    Sweeden are a shit stain on the globe…

  3. Jeroen

    I presume the defendant now owns the copyright and its entitled to all profits from the movie.

    1. DrAstralis

      This exactly. If they’re going to charge him the full amount of the distro rights then they belong to him now right? No? Of course not, that would be logical and just.

      1. Zirgs

        Of course not.
        You still need to buy a tram ticket after you paid a fine for not having one.

        1. gurrfield

          Trams cost money to operate and is thus not a one time job. Works protected by copyright are a one time work and then a monopoly to charge without limit afterwards.

          Do you seriously not understand the difference?

        2. Googla

          Gurrfield you don’t think that producing writing casting and scouting etc. for the next movie costs money?

        3. next_ghost

          > Gurrfield you don’t think that designing and building the next generation tram costs money?


        4. Anonymous

          “You still need to buy a tram ticket after you paid a fine for not having one.”

          I don’t know about other jurisdictions, but here in Germany, the fine for “not having a tram ticket” is €40. And that fine is not simply a fine, it is an “increased fare”. This means that in exchange for paying the fine, you will receive a one-way ticket, so you can stay on the tram/bus/whatever and they can’t fine you again.

          And it even gets better: If you can proove that you have actually bought a ticket but you forgot it at home, then the fine is only €7. (Obviously, this rule does only apply to tickets that you cannot give to someone else)

  4. Zirgs

    In Sweden minimum wages are ~1500 eur/month.
    You sure as hell can afford to pay for your entertainment.

    C’mon pirates – lead by example – create hi-q entertainment production and release it for free.
    Outcompete the “old copyright monopoly”.
    What’s keeping you from doing that?
    If you will be able to produce something better than Hollywood I sure as hell will consume your production and “Copyright monopoly” will not get my money and will be forced to declare bankrupcy – a win for pirates.

    Why are you even sharing content that is produced by “old and obsolete” industry?
    No one is keeping you from sharing your free content with the whole world.

    Maybe the truth is that you are not able to produce anything that people will bother to consume and are only capable to leech off of other people’s hard work and talent?

    Linux is one example – I chose to pay for windows despite the fact that linux is free and windows is not.
    Because windows is a superior product and 80 eur is a small price to pay to enjoy hassle free usage later.

    1. gurrfield

      “Outcompete the “old copyright monopoly”.
      What’s keeping you from doing that?”

      Hmmm let’s see… the fact that the monopoly spend truckloads of money on lobbying to censor the internet both in lobbying for new laws and by copyright claims and offering police officers “rewards after a job well done”?

      1. Zirgs

        But you don’t need censor internet or sue people.
        No one is keeping you from releasing your own “the dark knight” or “avatar” totally free without copyrights or anything.
        They can’t sue you for distributing your own product totally free.

        You also do noit need to lobby for anything.
        It is already perfectly legal.

        Where is the problem?

        No one is forcing you to buy or share things that are produced by “evil copyright monopoly”.
        They are product of “old and obsolete system” – forget about them and create a viable alternative.

        1. Thomas

          It is a valid point. The pirate movement has spent 10 years whining and telling the the world how simple it is to produce and distribute new music and movies. But they have failed to create anything themselves.

        2. Ninja

          In what world have you been living? I cannot produce anything related to Avatar because it is not in the Public Domain. What is in the Public Domain is the underlying story (Pocahontas or whatever u call it). And while it’s not Sweden you can always go for Nina Paley and her attempts at making “Sita Sings the Blues” free of copyrights. It’s not as simple as you see in your rosy copyright world.

          ** No one is forcing you to buy or share things that are produced by “evil copyright monopoly”.
          They are product of “old and obsolete system” – forget about them and create a viable alternative **

          A lot of people are doing it. I used to pirate a lot of things from the MAFIAA but I’m so disgusted of their rotten values that I stopped doing it. And many people are following this path which is great if it gets the MAFIAA to bankruptcy. However the lobbying is doing much more than just making it “harder” to download copyrighted content. It’s actively screwing up artists and preventing further development of culture in the form of derivative works. The recent ContentID debacle on Youtube is just a small example of the symptoms of this disease called copyright.

        3. Zirgs

          Sure – you can’t make anything related to avatar – but you can make a movie with similar quality absolutely free.
          It’s actively screwing up artists and preventing further development of culture in the form of derivative works
          Artists are free to choose different business models.
          And many do – I don’t see a problem here.
          Derivative works are a non-issue – just create your own original content.

        4. next_ghost

          > Derivative works are a non-issue – just create your own original content.

          There is no such thing as “your own original content”. Everything is a remix. If you think that you’ve created something truly original, it’s only because you can’t remember what you have remixed.

          And even if you theoretically could produce something original instead of remixing others, the MAFIAA can just dig through its vast archives and bring back dozens of old copyrighted works you’ve never heard about that look just like whatever you came up with. Their huge archives of old content make it absolutely certain that they can sue any independent creator out there for copyright infringement and win. Unless you can point to a public domain work and successfully claim that you copied that one instead. That’s pretty much the only defense that will always work.

          Also, the famous quote by Isaac Newton about scientific progress applies equally to artists: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” When you tell creators that they’re not supposed to copy, you’re effectively telling them that they’re supposed to stand only on the ground.

    2. Rick Falkvinge

      In Sweden minimum wages are ~1500 eur/month. You sure as hell can afford to pay for your entertainment.

      You know, this is exactly the same kind of argument that the British used against Gandhi. “They can sure as hell afford to pay our salt tax.”

      It’s not a matter of money. It never was. It was a matter of whether it’s reasonable that the British had a right to tax people for taking salt out of the ocean, and it’s a matter of whether it’s reasonable that an industry has legislated its place in the market when they don’t add any value, forcing everybody to pay extortionate protection money in a racketeering scheme.

      Yesterday, there was a story about how teachers at universities used this exact argument when books arrived en masse, thinking students had the means to pay to listen to teachers read aloud. But they didn’t want to do so; they wanted to used the technology available (books) for maximum leverage, despite how the old guard of the time saw themselves as entitled.

      This was never about the money. It’s about an industry that has abused a monopoly position to absurd lengths, and is ruining lives over anything that threatens its privileges.

      1. asdf

        Very true. It’s a classic case of Greed v. Human Rights.

      2. Zirgs

        No one is forcing you to use information produced by “old copyright monopoly”.
        You also do not need to use their distribution channels.

        Create your own culture and distribute it your way – so everyone can see the difference.

        What’s keeping you from doing that?

        1. Googla

          “What’s keeping you from doing that?”
          Probably the fact that most pirates are so much more interested in lapping up “free” culture made by those big bad companies that they dislike so much so that they have no time or interest in creating their own cultural content.

        2. Per "wertigon" Ekström

          The fact that there aren’t any good distribution channels on the internet that isn’t controlled by the media cartels right now. Atleast not for music and movies.

          Not to say there aren’t any distribution channels whatsoever – just that most such channels aren’t good quality content.

          One alternative I’m personally rooting for is GNU MediaGoblin, which seems to have solved both the Facebook and the Youtube problems in one fell swoop…

        3. Zirgs

          Torrent trackers are not controlled by media cartels.
          Just upload your stuff there.

        4. Per "wertigon" Ekström

          Problem with Torrent trackers are that they are hit and miss.

          Sure, I can get the shit I’m looking for there. But quality, encodings etc will vary wildly, not to mention it’s possible that the torrent “Game.Of.Thrones.S4.1080p.h264.mkv.torrent” actually contains a hidden piece of virus or other piece of malware.

          The experience is sub-par, but hey atleast it’s free… Mostly… But yea, not ideal. At all.

        5. jsebean

          I’m not sure how others here feel, but I don’t necessarily argue that the copyright monopoly is old, simple that the copyright monopoly needs updating to get in line with our modern day society. I find it odd that nobody has answered your question in whole, but instead beat around the bush.

          Copyright should permit individuals freedom, for freedom’s sake, I don’t think industry however should have freedom to do everything if it’s found to be beneficial for society. In other words, non-commercial sharing of non-derivative works, for a limited time.

          There are a number of “open source” movies, as well as Creative Commons no-derivs non-commercial movies that are free to share. I cannot give good examples because I have watched none, when it comes to movies, I’m not a movie guy. I don’t watch any movies. The fact that crowd funding is successful and theaters aren’t going away however is proof that even if you was to go as far as abolish copyright completely, shows that productions can still make money, this be produced. I wish someone could elaborate on this in the comments who is knowledgeable in this, I can’t because honestly, in a practical world I don’t care about movies. I don’t even have TV service aside from rabbit ears. haha.

          Software on the other hand I can give examples of. The GNU/Linux system is a pure example of quality software that is successful. One may argue that GNU/Linux is too hard, eg. Drivers. The argument that it is hard, interface wise, is no longer valid in my mind since there are plenty of user friendly interfaces, such as Unity. Nobody has said that there’s no learning curve, even Macs have a learning curve, but it’s not hard to use. There are also commercial operations that sell GNU/Linux computers, like System76, ThinkPenguin, and even some of the commercial companies in the past as well.

          For funding, the free software and open source community has had a number of good ways to fund software. Sometimes donations work, but honestly, small projects rarely have a go at this. Crowd Funding is a great method that appears to work well. However, nobody has said that free software/open source needs to be gratis, or free, price wise. Bryan Lunduke has a good example of this, in which some of his software is GPL based, source code is accessible, yet he does not give his software away, he sells it. And according to him, he’s making (slightly) more money now than when his software was proprietary.

          Cory Doctorow writes books and releases them Creative Commons, free for individuals to share, yet he makes money doing this selling the official book in print, so to have a monopoly on commercial production of a book is beneficial since he makes money, yet individuals still have freedom to share.

          That’s my take on the matter from a practical economic standpoint. I also argue the ethical issues involved as well but of course, you’ve already read those replies I’m sure.

    3. Ilja

      Please go away! We are not discussing your fantasies. This is about punishment not fitting the crime.

    4. tinus42

      Please, Windows is in no way superior to Linux. Try out Linux Mint, it’s much nicer than Windows. You only need Windows to play games and Steam OS (which is based on Linux) will likely change that. The only reason why Windows is still popular is because Microsoft coerces PC manufacturers to pay for including Windows with each PC they sell else they will sue them for “rights” infringement if they don’t.

  5. researcher

    It is interesting to note the complete lack of commentary and opinion pieces about this in the Swedish press. They only publish the news about the harsh judgement, presumably hoping that it will scare some people to quit file sharing.
    I don’t know where the Swedish press got the idea that they are a close ally of the copyright industry and that they should participate in this kind of scaremongering, but they are obviously mistaken. I hope that this power trip is fun while it lasts, but journalists from “aftonbladet”, “expressen”, “svenska dagbladet”, “sydsvenskan” and “dagens nyheter”(the major papers in Sweden) should probably look for alternative career paths at this point. I hear that Mcdonald’s are looking for burger flippers this time of the year … Is this a job that could suit the highly educated and precious gatekeepers of our democracy (as they like to describe themselves)?

    1. T N Watt-Knott

      The Swedish mainstream press hasn’t just gotten the IDEA that they are a close ally of the copyright industry. They ARE the copyright industry. A bit of research will show you that three major players control most of the press and the private broadcasting companies. Those three are Bonnier, Schibsted and Stampen. Bonnier, for example, is a group of 175 companies mainly in Norhtern Europe. Apart from publishing magazines, newpapers and books, their business is also production and distribution of such things as film, radio, television, music, records and online games. Schibsted has a comparable profile.

  6. RB

    This is ridiculous… Just shows the power that great corporations have within the system.

  7. Ian Farquhar

    So does he own the movie now? 🙂

    Given that he paid the full, exclusive distribution fee.

  8. Ninja

    The idea of imposing fines for lesser “crimes” (notice that there’s no crime here but let us pretend there is) is both to educate and to act as deterrent to future “criminals”. The MAFIAA is pushing for ever increasing fines because of this. However what happens when fines so high that they have little numeric meaning for the mere mortals and are virtually a death sentence begin to be issued? People lose respect for the law. You don’t impose such ridiculous fines to someone that stole a chocolate bar. They are at best a few dozen or hundred euro. Because bankrupting the person is bad for the economy, for the person and for society as a whole.

    This is yet one more example of why copyright has to go. It has become a hideous monster and a torturing tool in the hands of rotten pieces of shit (I don’t dare classify the MAFIAA as human beings).

    1. Zirgs

      You are free to release all stuff you’ve produced absolutely free without any copyrights.

      1. Anonymous

        Actually no thats not always possible.

        Recently a number of youtube videos got removed because there was claims that it contained music and the video creator had not the right to the music.

        The reason – it was play a game videos – where the person was playing a game and showing how its done. The game creators allowed it, but the companies licensing the music to the game protested.

        Its a mine field.

  9. Anonymous

    yet again, it isn’t us, the ordinary people, you need to convince that drastic change is needed, it’s the politicians that would obviously rather take back handers and bribes from the entertainment industries than have laws that are sensible and just. on top of that, when you have a representative of those industries, Ponten, who obviously gets an enormous amount of personal pleasure from inflicting this level of harm on to an individual for committing what is actually a trait of being human, the sharing of things, it shows exactly how ridiculously bad things have become! there has never been nor will there ever be a case where an artist or company can be completely ruined forever because a product they consider theirs, is shared. the punishments dished out, however, have already cost some individuals their lives and numerous individuals their freedom, their livelihood, even their families. everything possible that can be be taken from them, has been taken and all because a particular industry, mainly in the USA, has refused to cater for the wants and needs of customers and then prefers to completely ruin people instead. when the hell are the people going to wake up to what is happening and actually do something about it? all it takes is a mass refusal to buy movies and music. no one has to get physically harmed or anything! regardless of the amount of money they have, these industries couldn’t last forever with no sales. think about it!!

    1. Zirgs

      That’s exactly what I’m saying – boycott the “old copyright monopoly” and create and share copyright-free culture yourselves.
      No one is denying you that.

      1. Viktualiebrodern

        I believe you are in so far right that the political aim of the pirate movement should not restrict itself to reform of the current laws, but also to find ways of putting more of the cultural production in the commons from the start.

        I see threee ways in which this happens:
        a) Creative commons. You can point out and name a few people who has done more, but the product is “unowned” as such.

        b) Folklore/tradition. Something simply emerges and the attribution of the work is to N.N. or simply “Trad”.

        c) Unintended, valuable use. My favourite example is the patent system, where the rational for the creator is greed and the reward a monopoly, but which as a byproduct creates a huge free encyclopedia of technical creation and knowledge.

        So, an, a pro-active, policy for encouraging and engineering society to put more of its cultural production into one of these categories that create “unowned” works is something that I want to see in the pirate movement.

        A policy-making that in itself is a creative challenge.

      2. Anders S Lindbäck

        Actually its been prevented by law.

        Culture which the creator though should be free by now, that culture are not free.
        Politicians has increased the lenght of copyright, preventing works to become free.

        Latest was the EU increasing the length of music from 50 to 70 years.

        1. Zirgs

          That’s the default term – you can set a shorter term for your own works or even release it as a public domain straight away.

  10. Anonymous

    This is ridiculous.

    What about the following pricing scheme:
    – When a filesharer is cought, the copyright monopoly holder has to count the number of unauthorized copies created
    – The “creator” of an unauthorized copy is the person who is uploading content to a file sharing network
    – The increased licensing fee for an unauthorized copy is €40 per copy
    – If someone splits a work into several fragments that need to be combined in order to get a complete copy, and someone copies some but not all of these fragments, the fine is only payable for the copied part of a work. This means: If your seed/leech ratio is 0.49, then the fine is €40*0.49=19.60€ (assuming that the copyright holder is able to see ALL of your traffic)
    – Traffic that is created by a copyright holder for the purpose of detecting monopoly violations shall not be regarded as a copyright monopoly violation as the copy is – in this case – being sent to someone who is permitted to create it

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