With the Pirate Bay verdict in hand, the music industry lobby group IFPI are threatening the hosting providers of torrent sites to take down everything BitTorrent related, or else. While some have complied with these demands, the Swedish web host Portlane refuses to do so and uses commercial marketing legislation in its defense.
A few days after the people involved with The Pirate Bay were convicted, IFPI started to send out letters to owners of BitTorrent sites, as well as the hosting providers who provide services to these sites.
In a letter sent out to several web hosts IFPI argued that the site(s) hosted by the providers make “a large number of” copyright works available to the public, and that the users of the sites are infringing the copyrights of IFPI members. IFPI ended the letter by asking the web host to take necessary actions to make sure that this activity stops, or else “IFPI intends to take necessary measures.”
This tactic seemed to work, as many torrent sites operated by Swedes closed their doors or were shut out by their host. However, the Swedish provider Portlane is not planning to cave in to IFPI’s threats and have filed a complaint at the Swedish Market Court.
“My client feels IFPI’s letter is one sided, lacking in nuance and very threatening. Portlane does not believe it should be forced to break a contract with a client because of hearsay,” Portlane’s lawyer Jonas Forzelius told Dagens Nyheter.
Forzelius argues that IFPI is breaking the law because they send out the warning letters for financial gain, something not allowed under Sweden’s marketing law, regardless of the copyright issues that are at stake here.
“What IFPI says is ‘close these sites’, and what is the purpose of that? Of course scaring as many ISPs as possible to stop providing these services in order for IFPI to increase their own sales. Not everyone can afford to process against IFPI with its financial resources, even if they feel IFPI’s claims are wrong.”
In several earlier cases, the Market Court has made it clear that these warning letters must be written in a way that corresponds with marketing ethics. Since IFPI always claims that they are losing millions of dollars (or kroner) thanks to piracy, their warning letters would be unlawful.
Thus far, the Commercial Marketing Court had tried seven cases of warning letters, not related to file-sharing. In all cases except one they were found unlawful and the judges banned the letters with fines of half a million crowns if they were sent again. IFPI await the same fate, meaning that the threats will stop.