A man has been ordered to pay $652,000 (4.5m Swedish Krona) in damages for sharing Swedish language film Beck – Buried Alive on the now defunct Swebits website.
The man, who was 25 at the time of his arrest in 2011, and who has been described as Sweden’s ‘worst ever’ movie pirate, helped to moderate Sweden’s oldest private BitTorrent tracker site Swebits. In addition to the fine he was given a suspended jail sentence and 160 hours of community service for sharing another 517 files.
Although looking for a one year jail sentence which was not handed out, Henrik Pontén, a lawyer for anti-piracy body Rights Alliance, who in alliance with Nordsk Film carried out the investigation that led to the arrest, expressed satisfaction at the verdict,
‘The high damages shows what damage creators and rights holders suffer through illegal file sharing of a movie. Going forward, we have a number of processes which we can use to seek compensation for piracy of one or more films.’
The huge fine is the largest ever paid for sharing a Swedish movie, and vastly exceeds the $150,000 statuary damages possible in the US. Pontén explained to TorrentFreak that the fine ‘refers to compensation and is equal to what the man would have paid if he had bought a license to distribute the movie for free downloads’ although the poor video quality of the uploaded move, which it was claimed would damage its reputation, was a contributing factor.
Pontén added, rather ominously, that ‘in the future a number of criminal cases are up for trial and damages will be brought forward for one or several movies’.
Unsurprisingly, internet freedom activists have reacted angrily to the ruling, with Gustav Nipe, chairman of the Pirate Party’s Young Pirate youth organisation stating that,
‘To receive such a harsh penalty for doing something carried out millions of other Swedes displays how outdated current legislation is. The only way forward is a radical reform of copyright law that allows the sharing of culture.’
Pirate Party founding member Peter Sunde also weighed in, with the comment that the ‘Swedish court says that BT-site Swebits is “organised crime”. Come on!!!’