Men Tried for Extortion After Porn Download Threats

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Six men went on trial this week accused of blackmail and extortion after thousands were sent threats demanding cash payments for alleged adult video downloads. Former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde hopes for a conviction, but wonders if Hollywood content would've been handled differently.

badtrollFor more than a decade copyright holders around the world have been doing their best to extract money from those who download content without permission. The RIAA were probably the pioneers but today it’s the adult industry making the most noise.

Porn is a convenient weapon in this landscape. Few people want their adult content viewing habits to be made public so the chances of targets paying up following an unauthorized download are anecdotally higher than for regular entertainment content.

Out to make as much money as possible, this assumption wasn’t lost on a group of adult business ‘entrepreneurs’ based in Sweden.

Operating out of the region of Skåne, two years ago the individuals began sending threatening communications to people they claimed had downloaded pornographic content from sites without permission. The websites in question were all operated by the men.

In total around 4,000 people all over Sweden received ‘invoices’ for alleged illegal downloads. Each were warned that if they failed to pay the amounts stipulated they would be reported to the police and their activities made public.

While some people paid, others decided to take action. According to SR.se, police received 1,000 complaints from members of the public ranging from 10-year-old children to pensioners.

After an investigation the police began to view the case as criminally motivated. As a result this week six men went on trial in the Malmö district court accused of generating around $240,000 via extortion and blackmail. During a break in proceedings one of the accused defended his actions.

“If people are stealing and taking things that do not belong to them they must face the consequences. It also applies to porn,” said Dennies Pettersson, one of the main defendants in the case.

In an article published in Nyheter24 this week, former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde said he hopes the men get convicted but wonders if the type of content involved affected the way the case was being handled.

“What I think is interesting and worth a little thought is how the situation would be if it were not porn but possibly pop music or Hollywood movies that had been downloaded? Who would’ve been the deceiver in the state’s eyes in that situation?” Sunde asks.

Due to the numbers of victims to be heard and its complexity (the investigation documents run to 20,000 pages) the Malmö district court has set aside a whole month to handle the case.

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