A report from Sweden’s National Police Board proposes changes to the country’s handling of copyright infringement and file-sharing offenses. The proposals have developed from meetings with entertainment company rightsholders and include the creation of a single team focusing on intellectual property crimes, plus more accessible forensic resources in order to successfully prosecute cases.
As the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay plus dozens of torrent and other platforms, Sweden has become well known to file-sharers around the globe. Perhaps because of this perceived disruption, local authorities are slowly but surely taking a harder line towards copyright infringement.
With a view towards improving performance within the realm of intellectual property rights enforcement, with the assistance of rightsholders the National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen) has carried out a review of its current position.
According to their report, ‘Police authorities handling cases on IPR violations’, police inspectors met with representatives from from “virtually all” rightsholders affected by the file-sharing of their products online.
The rightsholders told the police that although the situation has improved since the appointment of special prosecutors three years ago, they still face capacity problems when it comes to reporting infringement offenses.
Currently they are able to report only a small number of detected instances of infringement to the police but believe that if the police were better equipped, “significantly more crimes” could be reported.
Rightsholders also complained that response times are simply too long. Once a matter is reported to the police there can be a long delay before they take enforcement action such as searches or raids. There were also complaints that rightholders can spend a lot of money on investigations only to face a lack of response from the authorities.
There are further problems when it comes to technical ability. Rightsholders believe that police forensic IT investigations are not of a sufficiently high quality.
“There is also a lack of technical competence of the investigators, leading to poorer quality
capacity in interrogations,” the police report (pdf).
Other complaints center around how police systems and personnel are structured and organized, and a perceived lack of leaders empowered to make quick decisions on cases pre-trial.
The inspectors left the rightsholder meetings with proposals that more investigators, police officers, forensic staff and civilians should be employed and trained to tackle the issues.
The police have just published their report which proposes the creation of a single central group focused on the protection of intellectual property in order to tackle crime in an area which is said to be “developing rapidly”, especially in technological terms.
“Such a group should consist of a head, investigators, administrative assistance and designated IT forensic staff linked to the group. With the current starting point it is reasonable for the group to consists of around 20 people,” the police report, adding that links with the prosecutor should be improved.
“Intellectual property investigations are often very extensive and complicated. A collective group would facilitate prioritization of cases and also facilitate contact with prosecutors and external parties, such as plaintiffs, international authorities and agencies,” they conclude.