Today, Norway appears to be a much safer country for petty file sharers. The Hollywood lawyer Espen Tondel has been told by Kripos (serious crime police) that they will not be spending time investigating small-time pirates.
Like many lawyers in the anti-piracy arena, Tondel tries to blur civil and criminal law to obtain leverage. The police are clear – their priority is investigating real crimes, such as murder and robbery and sadly for him, file-sharing does not fall into those categories. Tondel must now make his claims against alleged pirates in a civil court.
Following this major setback, Tondel wrote to the Department of Justice and demanded a meeting with them. He complained that copyright holders need to go through the criminal system as without the help of the police, all they have is an IP address. They cannot sue an IP address, they need a real name and identity.
Unfortunately for Tondel, the response wasn’t what he’d been hoping for -the Department of Justice completely refused him a meeting- leaving him to start suing IP addresses, which he’s not allowed to do. Ouch.
On Sunday, Trond Giske, Minister of Culture in Norway told VG.no: “We have no plans to do anything similar to the Brits. To identify the users is quite a substantial process, so we plan to focus on only those who upload movies and music illegally. We are cooperating closely with the industry, and are well aware of the money they are loosing because of the illegal downloading.”
Norwegian political commentators are suggesting that Norway’s biggest political party and government, Arbeiderpartiet, aren`t going to change their policy on this because they are afraid of losing votes amongst the 18 to 30 year olds.
So can Norwegian file-sharers feel safe from prosecution now? “No, they can’t. I’m just saying that we will use most of our resources on those who uploads illegally” said Giske in a tone suggesting it’s only serious uploaders who need to take care.
Back in November 2007, Tondel reported 14 people to the police for sharing the movie, ‘Kill Buljo’, even though the director of the movie didn’t agree with this course of action. I expect there are at least 14 BitTorrent fans smiling today, shortly to be joined by thousands more.
Norway joins Canada in a growing group of common-sense countries which refuse to waste public resources on petty file-sharers. Other countries – such as Germany and the UK are particularly weak. Although they don’t directly involve the police, they allow lawyers to blatantly (ab)use the system by claiming they are prosecuting a criminal case, simply in order to obtain a file-sharer’s identity. They then drop the criminal case, only to pursue a financially lucrative civil one, a tactic favored by lawyers Davenport Lyons to un-mask alleged BitTorrent pirates in the UK.
It’s uncertain at this point if the imminent raids suggested by Tondel back in October 2007, will become more or less imminent following this statement by the police. Even though the Department of Justice won’t speak to Tondel, we did, but sadly he doesn’t seem to have a statement for us right now.
Special thanks to RayJoha who made this article possible