Sweden is known as the birth ground of The Pirate Bay, but it is also the country where some of the most aggressive anti-piracy actions take place.
In 2010 a then 25-year old a man was house-sitting for a friend when early one morning he was confronted by police officers looking for the property owner. The police decided to inspect his computer and found that he was sharing 57 movies through uTorrent.
The police decided to report this accidental discovery to both the prosecutor and copyright holders. The authorities took up the case and the man was found guilty of downloading the films from The Pirate Bay and TorrentBytes. In the initial court case the man received a 6,000 kronor ($920) fine, and after an appeal last week this was increased to 8,000 kronor ($1,200).
However, that still didn’t please the prosecution office, who now want the Supreme Court to take on the case. According to the authorities the prolific file-sharer shouldn’t get away with just a fine – they want to see the man jailed.
“In this case, it is important to set the bar high for other similar file-sharing cases in the future,” My Hedström of the prosecutor’s office told Swedish Radio in a comment.
The prison sentence is not only needed to deter this man from pirating more films, but also to make it possible to hunt down similar offenders in the future. When file-sharing is punished with a jail sentence then the police will have more anti-piracy tools to take on similar cases in the future.
“A prison sentence is needed for the police and prosecutors investigating this type of crime. They will have more powers when the crime leads to imprisonment. For example, they can then do a house search or request certain information, which is not possible when the offense is punished by a fine,” Hedström added.
According to the prosecutor’s office the current laws allow prison sentences for non-commercial file-sharers. Since this is the first case in Sweden against a BitTorrent pirate they are aiming high, to have a favorable precedent put in place.
Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party in Sweden, believes that the man should have never been convicted. However, he also notes that the two lower courts have thus far rejected the call for jail time, which is positive.
“The sad state is that somebody was convicted at all in a criminal court for sharing culture with his fellow humans. This should never have happened”, Falkvinge tells TorrentFreak.
“The good news is that the sentence – no jail – means that it’s illegal for police to bust into homes with a warrant, so no evidence can be collected for future cases of this non-crime. Thus, I have high hope that the cases currently under investigation will be the last ones.”
If the Supreme Court takes on the case it will be a pivotal one for Swedish file-sharers. Should the authorities get their way they could soon raid the homes of pirating BitTorrent users and throw them in jail. If the current verdict stands then their homes will be safe and a fine will be the toughest sentence available.