Court Acquits 15-Year-Old Schoolboy File-Sharer

A schoolboy sent to trial for sharing movies on two BitTorrent sites has been acquitted by a court. The 15-year-old, who said he only ever intended to download and not distribute, was cleared of all charges following a hearing. However, as is so often the case in copyright issues, the story won't end here.

In March 2011, the IT department of a Swedish school discovered Hollywood movies on a student’s hard drive. The 15-year-old schoolboy had obtained them from two torrent sites.

Rather than deal with the issue internally, the school’s head teacher escalated the matter by calling in the police to investigate. Five months later and the boy has appeared in court but unusually for these kinds of cases, things went much better than expected.

Due to the interest in the case, the boy attended court under the media spotlight and following a request from Peter Gillberg, the boy’s lawyer, the case was heard behind closed doors.

Before Judge Tove Klackenberg at the Gothenburg District Court, the defendant admitted downloading 24 Hollywood movies from the torrent sites tankafetast.se and tankaner.se, but claimed he was unaware that he was subsequently uploading the same material to other BitTorrent users.

Two of the lay judges found that the 15-year-old had indeed been negligent but not grossly so, the benchmark required for a conviction. As a result the boy was acquitted.

“It’s important to be here,” said Pirate Party leader Anna Troberg who turned out in support at the District Court today.

“I can only imagine how it feels to be fifteen and dragged into court for it doing one of the nicest things to do, sharing culture.”

While lawyer Peter Gillberg confirmed that his client is “satisfied” with the ruling, the story won’t end there.

“This is simply absurd,” prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad told DN.se. “I can see that lay judges can be wrong in cases that are a little unusual and complex, and that have a political dimension.”

Ingblad later confirmed that not only will the case go to the Court of Appeal, but operations against both file-sharers and site operators will be stepped up.

“There will be more and more charges,” he said. “There will be more investigations against those who administer the illegal services, that is, file-sharing sites.”

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