In recent years, millions of file-sharers all over the world have been pressed to pay hefty settlement fees, or face their day in court.
The process was pioneered in Germany where it turned into an industry in itself, and copyright holders later went after alleged pirates in the US, Canada, the UK, Sweden and elsewhere.
These so-called “copyright trolls” are also active in Denmark. While some ISPs have protested what they describe as ‘mafia-like‘ practices, well over 150,000 Internet subscribers are believed to have been targeted. A massive number, for a population of fewer than six million people.
While a large percentage of the targeted users choose to settle, some cases are litigated. In court, the judgments can vary quite a bit. When defendants have a secured Wifi network they can be held liable, but the Copenhagen City Court recently dismissed all claims against an accused pirate, despite having a secure WiFi connection.
The man, who was a student living in Odense at the time of the offense, was sued by a movie company. The name of the company is redacted in court records but the defendant stood accused of sharing a pirated film from his IP-address during the summer of 2015.
More than two years later, the movie company sent the suspected pirate a letter requesting a settlement. However, the man denied the allegations, after which the matter made its way to court.
Since the evidence showed that the pirated movie was indeed linked to the defendant’s IP-address on a properly secured network, the movie company thought it had a strong case. However, the defendant continued to deny the allegations and presented some strong counter-evidence in return.
Although his memory of that day, years ago, wasn’t crystal clear, bank records showed that the man used his payment card at 7:59 PM, roughly 160 kilometers from his home, while the download was logged at 6:39 PM.
Based on the evidence, as well as the defendant’s testimony that he took his computer with him, the Copenhagen City Court agreed that he was probably not at home when the offense was logged. Although it’s not indisputable, the court found it unlikely that the man shared the movie himself.
“The court finds that the defendant [through the bank records] and his explanation that he had his computer with him, has shown concrete circumstances that with great certainty exclude the possibility that he himself was present at the address, or via his computer, picked up the movie at the address while he was not at home.
“The defendant hereby disproves the presumption that he himself shared or downloaded the movie at the time, which is why the case is dismissed,” the Copenhagen City Court adds.
The ruling will add to the growing list of jurisprudence in the piracy realm. As mentioned by Lexology, several file-sharing cases in Denmark are currently on hold, pending judgments from the Eastern High Court, which is likely to further clarify when account holders can be held liable.