As far as anti-piracy headlines go, the IFPI would prefer those coming from Denmark recently to be kept as quiet as possible. Back in September, Danish ISPs rejected the IFPI “3 strikes” proposals and then the anti-piracy group lost two court cases where alleged file-sharers used the so-called ‘wireless defense’.
This week, however, the IFPI and Danish Antipiratgruppen achieved a small victory in the case of a middle-aged man from Aalborg who used Direct Connect (DC) to share around 13,000 music files in 2005.
According to a Comon.dk report, the IFPI/Antipiratgruppen tracked activity which it linked to an IP address registered to the man. Obviously – as in all such cases – it was not possible to positively identify the person at the keyboard simply via the IP address, but the man made some admissions in what appears to be a generally weak defense, and these seem to help seal his fate.
Having previously lost his case in the district court, the man appealed and the case went to the Vestre Landsret, one of Denmark’s highest courts.
The defendant claimed that he couldn’t figure out how to use Direct Connect but admitted visiting the software’s homepage, albeit on an old PC which dated back to the mid 1990’s. It was also made clear in court that the man did not operate any type of wireless network, eliminating a defense which proved successful in other cases.
The ruling from the Vestre Landsret which was announced yesterday morning, stated that the man was guilty of copyright infringement. “The Court held that no person other than him [the defendant] could have used the IP address, and therefore he was sentenced,” said Antipiratgruppen lawyer, Maria Fred Lund.
The defendant was ordered to pay 160,000 kroner ($24,400) in damages, which was substantially less than the 440,000 kroner ($67,200) the anti-pirates wanted. He was also ordered to delete the music files he had obtained illegally.
Although the damages are less than the IFPI would’ve liked, the defendant’s lawyer, Per OverBech, says they could appeal to get the damages reduced. The court calculated the damages based on the losses estimated to have been suffered following the breach of copyright. The Vestre Landsret set an amount of 80,000 kroner ($12,200) and used the principle of ‘double-up’ to reach a final figure of 160,000 kroner ($24,400).
The ‘double up’ provision in Danish law is comprised of two parts. The first part covers the losses estimated to have been suffered following the breach of copyright. The court then doubles this amount to cover the actual losses and the documenting of such losses, which Antipiratgruppen and IFPI did not do.
“It is worth noting that it certainly pays to deal critically with the requirements of Antipiratgruppen,” said Per OverBech. “But in this case, the Vestre Landsret applied the principle of double-up, and I do not think there is reason for this,” noting that Antipiratgruppen provided no evidence to prove that sales had declined due to the alleged file-sharing activities of his client.
OverBech admits that it is unlikely that he will achieve an acquittal for his client but could go to the Supreme Court to contest the ‘double up’ principle applied by Vestre Landsret.