In July this year, four movie companies applied to a Swedish court requesting that it force an ISP to hand over the personal details of one of its customers. The application was made under the IPRED legislation introduced in April this year, which made it easier to track down and identify potential copyright infringers.
The companies, Svensk Filmindustri, Pan Vision, Filmlance and Yellow Bird in conjunction with Antipiratbyrån (APB), applied to the Södertörn District Court to force ISP TeliaSonera to hand over the details of the account holder behind the Swetorrents BitTorrent tracker.
A representative from APB said that Swetorrents made copyright movies available on the Internet, some of which have yet to have their commercial release, and claimed that the site negatively affects the revenues of the movie companies.
Today the Södertörn District Court announced its decision. TeliaSonera must hand over the name and address of the Swetorrents operator to Antipiratbyrån. Failure to comply will cost the company 750,000 kronor ($110,000) in fines.
It had been argued that since Swetorrents is a so-called private BitTorrent tracker which requires registration to access, this meant that the site is closed and not open to the public. This claim was dismissed, since the site has around 20,000 members and on this basis, could not be considered to be private.
“Today’s decision shows that it’s the victim of infringing activity that must be protected, rather than the perpetrator,” said lawyer for Antipiratbyrån Sara Lindbäck in a statement, noting that it was no longer acceptable to protect illegal activity by hiding it behind an IP address.
When the initial application was filed by the movie companies, TeliaSonera indicated it would fight to maintain the privacy of its customers, adding that it could appeal if the court decided against it.
“If there is an order from the court, it’s highly probable that we will appeal the decision,” a TeliaSonera spokesperson said at the time. “We’re not just going to hand over the information. It’s our duty to protect our customers’ privacy.”
At this stage a number of issues are unclear. The first, whether TeliaSonera intends to stand by its original intention to appeal. The second, whether the person behind the IP address is actually the operator of the site or simply the account holder, and the third, whether the account holder even handed over his correct details to TeliaSonera in the first instance.
in any event, the site’s current public IP address does not belong to TeliaSonera.