As the spiritual home and birthplace of The Pirate Bay, it was perhaps inevitable that Sweden would feel the heat from the entertainment industries in a way few other countries have.
Relentless pressure from Hollywood and the US recording industry has ensured that a steady stream of Swedish citizens have been hauled up in court for an activity that in recent years has simply been a part of their culture.
Today a court heard the case against an individual accused of sharing around 45,000 music tracks online, a record-breaking amount for Sweden.
“The copyright industry keeps harassing ordinary citizens, in this case a 58-year-old Swedish woman,” Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge told TorrentFreak.
The accusations stem from the woman’s alleged file-sharing activities back in October 2007.
Rick, a regular TorrentFreak contributor, was at the hearing and reported back on this important case. He believes that the prosecution and copyright holders will use this case to set an increased level of punishment for file-sharers.
From the courtroom Rick reported that interest in the case was high and the public seating area filled to capacity.
Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad claimed that the defendant is guilty of sharing thousands of tracks either deliberately or through criminal negligence.
Although the defendant denied these charges, she did admit to having downloaded some tracks. But the important question remained – was she aware that the tracks she downloaded were subsequently being shared?
“Looking at the panel of four judges, the outlook appears bleak,” Rick explained.
“Estimating their ages, the four appear aged 75, 45, 40 (the law judge) and 60. In particular, the older lay judge looks puzzled and absolutely lost in space when the prosecutor explains sharing, hubs and DC++ [Direct Connect].”
The prosecution’s claim, that 45,000 tracks were being shared, was apparently agreed to by the defense, an admission described as a “major fuck up” by Rick. Indeed, it later transpired that the prosecution only had evidence to show that “about 50” tracks had been shared.
It appears that a search of the defendant’s house took place a full year after IFPI carried out its initial investigation and it failed to turn up any of the music tracks in question. However, a Direct Connect client was found complete with logs which are said to contain data matching that from IFPI’s investigation.
The defense stated its case quickly. The seized computer carrying the logs does not belong to the defendant, and the defendant does not have the technical knowledge to know that sharing of music had taken place, despite installing the Direct Connect software and despite holding the job of a systems administrator.
The defense went on to remind the court that the accused had not acted with intent nor been criminally negligent, and that the prosecution had not shown anything to the contrary.
“It is interesting that the defense tries the ‘no active consent to sharing’ defense that was successfully used in the Göteborg trial against the 15-year-old who was ratted out by his headmaster,” Rick told us.
“Just as Denmark has established that ‘open wireless’ is a silver bullet against the copyright industry, perhaps this can become an equally strong defense until the laws are changed to stop these goons.”
After initially talking along the lines of a five months prison sentence, the prosecutor settled for a conditional sentence and an income-based fine. Nevertheless, that could be substantial – the biggest conviction previously related to the sharing of around 3,000 tracks.
“Seeing the inertia in the system gives us a feel for how long it will take to reverse this corporativist trend,” says Rick.
“This trial was for events that transpired in 2007. Four years ago. If we learn from today, it will have effects on trials that take place in 2015. Hopefully, there will be Pirate Parties in parliaments in several countries by then, starting to reverse this madness.”
The verdict will be delivered in two weeks.