‘500,000 Swedes’ risk jail time for filesharing

Up to half a million Swedes who have illegally downloaded as few as ten movies could be be charged with crimes punishable by time in prison, according to precedents set by prosecutors in recent filesharing cases.

'500,000 Swedes' risk jail time for filesharing

In the past, sentencing guidelines for filesharing offences have been unclear, but rulings handed down in 2011 have resulted in prosecutors developing a precedent where it has become clear when the offence is punishable by a prison sentence.

“We’re talking about 10 to 20 movies or a thousand music files, that’s about where the limit is normally when I think we’re talking about prison,” prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson told the TT news agency.

Recent rulings in filesharing case have provided guidance on how much copyrighted material can be shared before prosecutors seek to have suspected offenders sent to prison.

Despite the fact that millions of Swedes violate the law by filesharing, only a few have been convicted.

In light of several recent court cases concerning illegal filesharing, the Sweden’s justice minster has appointed two prosecutors to handle filesharing cases.

During the past year, the prosecutors have successfully prosecuted about a dozen cases resulting in convictions for file sharing violations.

While some offenders have managed relatively large-scale, filesharing hubs, many “ordinary” Swedes have also been convicted.

Penalties have ranged from fines to suspended sentences equivalent to time in prison.

“We estimate that the suspended sentences have so far corresponded to a sentence of up to one to three months in prison,” said Rasmusson.

An estimated 1.4 million Swedes engage in illegal filesharing, according to recent figures from Statistics Sweden.

Lund University researcher Måns Svensson estimates that roughly one third or filesharers are active enough to risk being sentenced to prison in convicted.

“But there isn’t any real threat of prison for these filesharers. In part because prosecutors lack the resources to investigate, and in part because there isn’t a social acceptance to pursue legal action against half a million Swedes for a crime which the average person doesn’t view as especially serious,” Svensson told TT.

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Denmark proposes new law to make Facebook pay for news and music

The government is to forward a bill on Friday proposing tech giants such as Facebook and Google pay Danish media for using content on their platforms.

Denmark proposes new law to make Facebook pay for news and music
File photo: Regis Duvignau/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The proposal will also mean platforms used to share media, such as YouTube, will be required to make agreements with rights holders in order to display videos or music, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.

A comparable law recently took effect in Australia, resulting in all news pages being temporarily blocked for Facebook users in the southern hemisphere country.

READ ALSO: Could Denmark force Facebook to pay for news content?

“The media plays a central role in our democracy and ensures that public debate takes place on an infrormed basis,”culture minister Joy Mogensen said in the statement.

“If the media are to be able to continue making journalism, they should of course be paid for its use,” she added.

The proposal will provide for rights holders such as musicians or media outlets to be given a new publishing right which will enable them to decide who can use their content.

As such, companies like Facebook and Google will need permission to use the content online.

The Danish proposal builds on an EU directive which gives individual media outlets the right to agree deals with tech giants.

The bill put forward by Mogensen will allow Danish media to make a collective agreement with the tech companies providing for payment when their content is used.

An interest organisation for Danish media companies has backed the proposal.

“We have wanted to be able to enter collective agreements with tech giants because that would strengthen the media companies’ position,” Louise Brincker, CEO of Danske Medier, told newspaper Berlingske. Brincker noted she had not yet read the full proposal.

Media will not be obliged to make agreements with the tech companies, however. Complaints to the Danish copyright board, Ophavsretslicensnævnet, will be possible under the new law, should it be passed by parliament.

The bill will become law on June 7th should it receive the backing of a parliamentary majority.

Both Facebook and Google decline to comment to Berlingske on the matter, stating they had yet to see the bill in full.