A prominent European anti-piracy group says the time has come to get tough on Internet pirates. The Danish Rights Alliance says that while lawlessness prevails online there needs to be better organized responses from the authorities, such as the ones currently underway in Sweden and London. Meanwhile, Rights Alliance’s lawfirm is complaining about police responses to their lengthy file-sharing investigations, which have included the clumsy tipping-off of suspects.
From a region where online file-sharing has traditionally thrived, Scandinavia has become an area more focused than many on the issue of online piracy.
As the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay, Sweden in particular has long been associated with free-and-easy attitudes to infringement and as a result dozens of sites were founded in the site’s wake. This eventually prompted a more organized approach to dealing with operators of file-sharing sites and now that model is being eyed by others in the region.
Writing today in Jyllands-Posten, RettighedsAlliancen’s (Rights Alliance) Maria Fredenslund says that in the face of rampant illegal downloading the time has come to subject Danish Internet pirates to stiffer penalties via a dedicated anti-piracy task force, such as the ones in place in both Sweden and London.
“A special unit that works consistently with intellectual property crime would be a marked improvement on the current situation. Such a facility would enable police and prosecutors to build the relevant skills through their daily operational work with intellectual property cases,” Fredenslund writes.
“Experiences from abroad, such as the special IP unit in Sweden that has been a conspicuous success, show us that a task force will strengthen copyright holders and weaken the criminal masterminds. This is supported by the fact that the number of convictions has increased significantly over a very short period of time.”
Fredenslund says that a dedicated force would free regular police from having to start from scratch each time a new case arises and would ensure that police resources are used in a more efficient manner than is currently the case. But apparently there are other problems too.
In a separate article published by veteran Danish anti-piracy lawfirm Johan Schlüter, it seems that Rights Alliance have grown weary of committing large resources to anti-piracy investigations only to have them ruined when police didn’t handle the complaint in a way the anti-piracy organization would have liked.
“When we at Rights Alliance choose to report a case to the police, it follows years of exploration and work. Notification is always done on the basis .[..] that a person or company is behind the extensive distribution of illegal products, typically for profit,” the company explained.
“Unfortunately, what we have seen repeatedly is that the police choose to call and inquire about these suspicions before steps have been taken towards a preservation of evidence. Such calls obviously give suspects an opportunity to deny the accusations and eliminate all kinds of evidence. That leaves Rights Alliance with a bad case and many hours of wasted work.”
However, there are now clear signs that the Danish authorities are ready to progress on the issue. In July the Attorney-General said there would be a strengthening of responses to piracy and last month further discussions with Danish rightsholders took place. Whether the proposals will be enough for the entertainment companies remains to be seen, but history tells us that a mutually satisfactory solution is unlikely.