While most requests for file-sharing related cash settlements never make the headlines since their recipients simply dig deep and pay up, a minority end up making waves. A situation in Finland is developing into one such case.
According to reports a woman from the Pohjanmaa region was astonished to receive a threatening letter last New Year’s Eve from Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Center (CIAPC). The group, known locally as TTVK, claimed that the woman had been tracked sharing unauthorized files online and the only way to make the case go away would be the payment of a 6,000 euro settlement.
The woman is vigorously protesting her innocence.
“I have not used any such [file-sharing] programs at all,” she told Helsingin Sanomat.
However, what makes this case interesting is that not only does the woman believe that someone used her WiFi connection without her permission, but it’s acknowledged that whoever did so was actually only sharing illicit files online for just 10 minutes – that’s a 600 euro fine per minute.
“That’s the most expensive ten minutes of Internet use we’ve ever heard of,” Joonas Mäkinen of Finland’s Pirate Party told TorrentFreak.
“The problems here are numerous,” Mäkinen continued. “Not to mention the idea that a mere third-party NGO obtains private details of an ISPs customer, the owner of the network should by no means be responsible for the actions of users. This threatens the assumption of innocence and neutrality of service providers.”
Electronic Frontier Finland (EFFI) lawyer Ville Oksanen agrees.
“Open network owners are not responsible for other users’ activities,” says Oksanen.
Nevertheless, there are concerns that if the woman in this case is found guilty by a court then the presumption in future could be that open WiFi operators can be held responsible for the actions of their users.
CIAPC Managing Director Antti Kotilainen refused to comment on individual cases but insists that his group does not proceed with wrongful cases.
“If it can be shown that the challenge is unfounded, we do not take further action,” he said.
While Kotilainen’s comment may seem reassuring, the woman with a 6,000 euro settlement demand doesn’t appear to be reassured.
“The other party [TTVK] refused to negotiate on this issue,” she says
Kotilainen says that in 2010 TTVK sent out around 100 similar settlement letters, an amount set to be doubled this year.
Separately, CIAPC is continuing its efforts to have The Pirate Bay censored in Finland.