The music industry anti-piracy lobby IFPI has taken a severe beating in Denmark recently. In September the major Danish ISPs issued a joint statement rejecting the IFPI’s demands for a ‘3 strikes’ agreement aimed at ultimately disconnecting alleged pirates from the Internet, labeling it as a “contravention of the law”. However, the defeats don’t end there.
The IFPI also accused two Danish women of being Internet pirates, after they claimed to have monitored illicit file-sharing activities on an IP address registered to one of them. The IFPI demanded $62,000 in compensation from the pair, stating that even if their Wi-Fi had been used without their knowledge, they are ultimately responsible for what happens on their Internet connection. Eventually a court ruled in favor of the women and acquitted them of all charges, much to the displeasure of the IFPI.
Now, the IFPI has suffered another defeat, again in a ‘wireless defense’ case. Previously, a middle-aged man from Randers, Denmark, was found guilty of Internet piracy in a case brought by the IFPI on behalf of music copyright holders. The man was ordered to pay compensation of around $11,000 and told to delete the infringing files from his computer. The defendant denied that he had done any of the alleged infringing and claimed that he operated an unencrypted wireless network which anyone could access.
However, in the Vestre Landsret, one of Denmark’s higher courts, the decision of the Municipal Court in Randers has been reversed, according to a Comon.dk report.
The court found that the IFPI held no proof that the IP address owner – the defendant – was the same person that carried out the infringements. This fact – that an IP address does not positively identify an infringer – is the same worldwide.
The lawyer for the defense, Per Overbeck, who also successfully defended the two women who won their ‘wireless defense’ case in another of Denmark’s higher courts, noted a difference in the cases, but one which didn’t affect the outcome for the defendants:
“The two women who were acquitted by the Østre Landsret, were in a household with multiple computers, so more people in the household had access to them,” he said. “The man in Randers was living alone in his apartment and had only one computer, but his apartment is in a complex so in principle many others can access his Internet connection.”
Although IFPI lawyer Torben Steffenson has yet to comment on the ruling, he is expected to say that the IFPI does not accept the decision of the High Court, and that they will take the case to the Supreme Court in order to win the case.
That is unlikely to change the fact that in these cases the burden of proof is with the plaintiff.