Court Rejects Massive Torrent Damages Claim, Admin Avoids Jail

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A former torrent site operator has largely avoided the goals of an aggressive movie industry prosecution in Sweden. Against a backdrop of demands for years in prison and millions in damages, the 25-year-old owner of private tracker SwePiracy was handed 100 hours community service and told to pay $194,000.

Founded a decade ago in 2006, SwePiracy grew to become one of the most famous private torrent sites on the Swedish scene. As such, it became a target for anti-piracy outfits.

In February 2012 following an investigation by anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån (now Rights Alliance), police in Sweden and the Netherlands took coordinated action to shut down the site.

Earlier this year its now 25-year-old operator appeared in court to answer charges relating to the unlawful distribution of a sample 27 movies between March 2011 and February 2012. The prosecution demanded several years in prison and nearly $3 million (25m kronor) in damages.

During the trial last month, SwePiracy defense lawyer Per E. Samuelsson, who also represents Julian Assange and previously took part in The Pirate Bay trial, said the claims against his client were the most unreasonable he’d seen in his 35 years as a lawyer.

After deliberating for three weeks, the Norrköping District Court handed down its decision today. SwePiracy’s former operator was found guilty of copyright infringement but it appears the prosecution’s demands for extremely harsh punishment were largely dismissed.

The torrent site operator avoided a lengthy jail sentence and was sentenced to probation and 100 hours community service instead. The prosecution’s claim for damages was dramatically reduced from millions to ‘just’ $148,000, payable to movie outfit Nordisk Film. On top, the state confiscated $45,600 said to have been generated by SwePiracy.

While the sentence certainly could’ve been worse, it appears that the 25-year-old will still mount an appeal.

“I have been in contact with my client and we will appeal both the conviction and the issue of damages. He thinks that the court went high with the damages,” Per E. Samuelsson told IDG.

And it appears the prosecution aren’t happy with the outcome either. Henrik Pontén from Rights Alliance says that Nordisk Film may also appeal since the District Court failed to apply principles previously applied in the trial of The Pirate Bay.

The parties have until November 1 to file an appeal.


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