Swedish File-Sharing in Decline, Anti-Piracy Lawyer Says

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Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén says that the trend of huge increases in people file-sharing has come to an end, while piracy complaints to the police more often than not lead to prosecution. Meanwhile, the Swedish government wants to develop a code of conduct to further reduce infringement.

piracydownLike many European countries, Sweden has millions of file-sharers. Many will have been inspired to take up their hobby through the antics of The Pirate Bay, a site that their government tried and failed to contain.

But despite the site managing to regain and maintain its position as the world’s most popular torrent site, it appears that at least to some extent, file-sharing is falling out of fashion in Sweden.

That’s according to Henrik Pontén, a lawyer with infamous anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance (Rättighetsalliansen)

“We see a trend reversal. Until now, we have seen a huge increase in file sharing, but we do not see that anymore,” Pontén told SVT.

Pontén and his colleagues have been waging a war against local pirates for more than a decade and despite the progress, it isn’t one that’s likely to end anytime soon. The legal chief says they’re now filing more complaints with the police, who are becoming used to handling these types of cases.

“We do not say how many referrals we make, but it is becoming more and more. The police are becoming better at investigating these cases and now the majority of complaints lead to a prosecution,” he said.

While Rights Alliance isn’t particularly well-known for going after the very casual file-sharer, it has a track record of aggressively pursuing bigger cases. Pontén warns that a successful prosecution these days is likely to end in big claims from the studios.

“It is always millions per movie. It rests on various things, including what a license to distribute the film legally costs,” he says.

“We could claim damages on many more movies, but we usually run with just one, that’s enough.”

While peer-to-peer file-sharing in Sweden and elsewhere may well be on the decline, other instances of piracy are on the rise. In particular, streaming is proving very popular with consumers and Pontén says that his group is currently focusing on people who operate streaming sites.

But in common with other countries facing a similar climate of illicit consumption, it’s now becoming clear that enforcement is only part of the solution. Alice Bah Kuhnke, Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, believes that cooperation between stakeholders will play a key role.

“We have collected a number of actors involved in this, and had round tables. There are different players with different interests. A code of conduct is one of the concrete proposals we came up with,” Bah Kuhnke says.

Describing the protection of intellectual property as a central issue for the government, the minister says that developing a voluntary code will assist with that aim.

“The code is also designed to make the Internet a safe and legal place for consumers and businesses. To promote innovation and investment in legal options and limit economic crime based on copyright infringement. I hope that more people want to subscribe to the code to make it a growing platform,” the minister concludes.

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