In recent years file-sharers all across Europe have been threatened with lawsuits, if they don’t pay a significant settlement fee.
The process was pioneered in Germany where it turned into an industry by itself, but copyright holders have also targeted alleged pirates in the UK, Finland and elsewhere.
Sweden is one of the latest countries where these so-called “copyright trolls” have landed. At the birth ground of The Pirate Bay, media outfit Crystalis Entertainment received permission from the court to identify several BitTorrent users, based on their IP-addresses.
The case, which could be the first of many, was filed against the local ISP TeliaSonera who handed over the requested information without putting up much of a fight.
This prompted the competing Internet provider Bahnhof to issue a warning. The company notes that the copyright holder in question doesn’t have a very strong case, and it criticizes Telia for caving in too easily.
“The Stockholm district court did not even see any evidence showing that these IP addresses were actually used for file sharing. It could basically be one of these Nigerian mail scams,” Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung says.
“I think that Telia folded caved in too easily. Although Crystal Entertainment properly represents certain copyright holders, at Bahnhof we would choose to appeal,” he adds.
The ISP says that they will not hand over any data without urging for a proper review of the evidence.
This is no surprise for a company that’s heavily focused on user privacy. Bahnhof’s tagline is “Internet with privacy” and two years ago the ISP was one of the first to launch a free VPN, responding to a legal requirement that required it to log subscriber activities.
In a press release Bahnhof explains how these extortion-like demands from copyright holders have become commonplace in Germany. It’s exactly this type of witch hunt is something they hope to prevent in Sweden.
This means that if copyright holders demand the same info from Bahnhof, they will fight this in court.
“We have to follow the law and no one can predict the future, but one thing I can guarantee, we’re on the side if our users. We will do everything in our power to prevent the German situation from spreading,” Karlung says.
Bahnhof’s CEO also has some advice for the media companies that are affected by piracy. They should invest their time and money in offering great content, instead of taking their customers to court.
“It is better for copyright holders to put their money into developing services that people want to pay for, like Netflix and Spotify, instead of becoming entrenched in the 1900s,” he concludes.