In 2016, copyright trolling made a brief appearance in Sweden but after a huge backlash, the perpertrators disappeared with their tails between their legs.
Last month, however, it became evident that Sweden is still a target for those seeking cash settlement demands from alleged pirates.
An initiative, fronted by Danish law firm Njord and backed by known international copyright trolls Guardaley, made headlines when it began targeting the customers of several ISPs, including Telia, Tele2 and Bredbandsbolaget, the provider that was previously ordered to block The Pirate Bay.
At the time it was unclear how many people the lawfirm had in its sights but the situation has become more clear following a recent legal development.
Sweden’s new Patent and Market Court, that was formed last year to handle specialist copyright complaints, handed down a ruling on Friday. It grants Njord and its partners the right to force ISP Telia to hand over the personal details of subscribers behind thousands of IP addresses, despite the ISP’s objections.
“There is probable cause of infringement of copyright in the films in that they were made unlawfully made available to the public via file sharing networks,” the Court wrote in its judgment.
“The applicants’ interest in having access to the information outweighs any opposing interests, including the interest of the individual [subscribers] to remain anonymous.”
Telia says that although it places great value on its subscribers’ right to privacy, complying with a court order is a legal requirement.
“We believe that our customers’ privacy is incredibly important, but now we must comply with this court decision,” a Telia press spokesperson told SVT.
In all, subscribers behind 5,300 Telia IP addresses will be affected, with claims that each unlawfully downloaded and shared a range of movie titles including CELL, IT, London Has Fallen, Mechanic: Resurrection, Criminal and September of Shiraz. All have featured in previous Guardaley trolling cases in the United States.
It’s not known how many of the 5,300 IP addresses Telia will be able to match to subscribers, or whether each IP address will identify a unique subscriber, but it’s safe to say that thousands of households will be affected.
While it appears that Telia will be the first ISP to hand over subscriber names and addresses to the rightsholder groups, the ISP will not be the last. Tele2 and Bredbandsbolaget are also being targeted and will need to comply with any court orders handed down, just as Telia has.
At this stage, the total numbers of Swedish subscribers affected by these cases still remains a little unclear, but it’s believed that around 20,000 might be eventually hit with some kind of settlement demand.