Swedish Court Fines File Sharer About $300 For Sharing 44 Songs

from the nothing-to-see-here... dept

While US courts have been awarding tens of thousands of dollars per song for the few people found guilty of unauthorized file sharing, many people have noted how utterly ridiculous those awards are, in comparison to any actual harm. It appears that a court over in Sweden appears to agree. A man who was charged with sharing 44 songs has been fined a much smaller amount, specifically, 2,000 kronor, or about $300. It actually comes out to just about $7 per song.

It will be interesting to see how the industry reacts to this one. After all, they've been going around praising the IPRED anti-piracy law in Sweden for the last two years now. Will we suddenly start hearing about how Sweden "doesn't take piracy seriously" and then there will be a new push for even stricter laws?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    go SWEDEN

     

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  2.  
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    TheStupidOne, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    Actual Harm

    Even though it is much more reasonable than a ruling in the US would be, this guy still just got hit with a fine more than 300x the actual damages his sharing caused. (note: I used a value of approximately $1 for this calculation to avoid a divide by zero error)

     

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  3.  
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    Jay (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    So now, even sharing has a price tag?

     

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  4.  
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    Zauber Paracelsus (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    I'd say the $300 is a reasonable fine. The goal of most punishments is to teach the person a lesson in order to prevent them from committing the crime again.

    The fines we have in the US? If I'm correct in assuming that the fines are all paid to the copyright holders, then the heavy fines we have are little more than a money-making scheme that the MAFIAA got through heavy lobbying/bribing.

    And I wonder... how much of those heavy fines do the artists get to see? Or does 99% of it all go to what I am assuming is the MAFIAA's gold-plated money vault?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    One thing I never really understood: why does stealing a physical CD (or lots of them) get a less severe punishment than sharing one song on the internet?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:30pm

    Will we suddenly start hearing about how Sweden "doesn't take piracy seriously" and then there will be a new push for even stricter laws?
    Yes.

     

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  7.  
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    nick, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:31pm

    they fine so much because the songs probably got downloaded alot

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:35pm

    Re:

    "One thing I never really understood: why does stealing a physical CD (or lots of them) get a less severe punishment than sharing one song on the internet?"

    The theory is that the same programs being used to download illegally also make that same download available to the public, which counts as disseminating copyright materials w/o the rightsholder's permission. The proper comparison for you would be someone stealing a physical CD, making copies of it, and then giving them away to anyone that asks.

    But even this is a poor comparison, as it costs the thief money to make the copies he distributes, whereas digitally no money is spent and none is gained (in general filesharing situations). This difference highlights the problem of the infinite good, in that it doesn't cost to produce a copy and therefore is difficult to assign much of a price to it....

     

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  9.  
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    Steven (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re:

    Here's my shot at a decent analogy.

    A retired guy, with a photographic memory, and fast a light carpentry skills, sits at the edge of a vast forest which he owns.

    You can walk up to him and ask him for those nice chairs you saw at store X. He will then proceed to make an exact replica of that chair, on the spot, almost instantly, and hand them to you for free.

    And there is one of these guys (with his forest) in every home.

     

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  10.  
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    Yogi, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:48pm

    Fines are for sissies

    Really, the only reasonable punishment for sharing the music you like with your friends is the death penalty.

     

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  11.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    "the songs probably got downloaded"

    Since when is probably a legal argument?

    If I own a gun, I probably shot someone with it.
    If I own both a car and alcohol, I probably drove drunk.

     

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  12.  
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    Jay (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Fines are for sissies

    It worked great for the monks in the 14th century...

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:53pm

    Does this mean the RIAA is going to sue Sweden for loss of revenue from those potential lawsuits?

     

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  14.  
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    MrWilson, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Fines are for sissies

    That's actually a great idea. Execute people who share the music they like. Sharing music you don't like is perfectly legal.

    Everyone shares the music they don't like and you just find the people with exactly the opposite taste from you to download from.

    Everybody wins (except for the bands that everyone likes because then nobody shares them and thus nobody listens to them or goes to their concerts or buys their t-shirts).

     

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  15.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    they fine so much because the songs probably got downloaded alot

    Which no-one has any means of knowing.

     

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  16.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    "the songs probably got downloaded"

    Since when is probably a legal argument?

    If I own a gun, I probably shot someone with it.
    If I own both a car and alcohol, I probably drove drunk.

     

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  17.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    I have a penis so I probably slept with your wife. Alot.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Actual Harm

    No, he was fined for 7x the actual damages (44 songs at $7 each is about $300 total).

    That sounds like a perfectly reasonable amount. Enough for a proper penalty, without being grossly disproportionate.

     

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  19.  
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    The Baker, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:34pm

    Forest for the trees

    ... And so ...
    He is using his resources to create something for to give away or charge for as he pleases. He hasn't impacted the value of the chair at the store and he hasn't "stolen" anything.

    Bad analogy ... this has to do with a tangible physical good. A MP3 is not.

     

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  20.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Actual Harm

    It's also interesting to compare that amount to the fines for things like speeding.

     

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  21.  
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    kryptonianjorel (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: Actual Harm

    *Woooooosh*

     

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  22.  
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    Chargone (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Forest for the trees

    you realise the point of the analogy is such that comparing to another infinite, intangible good fails because the point in it is to explain what the concept of infinite intangible goods ARE right?

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Actual Harm

    You can argue whether filesharing causes damages are not. I, personally, don't think it does (at least, within noticeable margins).

    However, the law is still in place, and is still being enforced. If he pirated 44 songs, then punish him for that, just do it fairly.

    Yes, laws should reflect reality and practicality, but at the same time, nullification and its ilk should do the same. A $7 fine per song is well within the realms of fairness, and isn't something that warrants a complete breakdown of the legal process.

    As long as the buck stops at the infringers, and the punishments aren't absurd, then I have no issues letting the proper legal process take place (include changes in laws).

     

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  24.  
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    Chargone (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    Re:

    it would fit the idiotic logic, so sure, why not

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Not sure where you are getting that the cost to distribute via the Internet is Zero...

    My business has a line on the P&L for Internet Service Expenses that is close to $40k annually.... And that is for three racks of servers in 2 data centers and 20mbps average bandwidth.

    I couldn't begin to imagine what someone like iTunes spends for their data centers and bandwidth for distribution of music... But then this is the flaw that little mikee and all his little cronies seem to forget about... Even INFINITE goods cost money to distribute.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    No, they will probably ask that ICE confiscate the Swedish TLD

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Forest for the trees

    You almost got this analogy, but then mis-interpreted it.

    - You are right in that
    1. He is using his resources as he pleases
    2. He hasn't stolen anything

    You fail to account for the fact that the analogy makes the tangible good infinite by saying that everyone has a forest and a craftsman in their home. If everyone has a forest and a craftsman in their home, why do they need to go to the store? If no one goes to the store for a chair then the store will not be able to sell the chairs. Thus the market price for any infinite good will go to zero without anyone doing anything wrong.

    The exception is if the store is more convenient than the craftsman.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    if I am using a torrent client then my incremental cost to distribute is zero. I have already paid to be connected to the internet, aka a sunk cost, the rest is simply an allocation of my time and interest since that is all it takes to start sharing/seeding/downloading a file.

     

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  29.  
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    nelsoncruz (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 5:21pm

    SImilar case in Portugal

    We had a similar conviction here in Portugal in 2009. Some guy was fined 1160 euros for 146 shared songs (7.26/song).

    It all started when AFP (the local version of the RIAA) made 38 criminal complaints against "unknowns" (via IP addresses) in 2007. 2 years later all they had to show for it, where 2 settlements and that conviction. The guy was actually convicted to 90 days in prison, but that was converted to a fine because it was a first offence. Its no wonder AFP quit making these complaints. They are now busy lobbying for a "graduated response" (cut internet access or apply fines after 3 accusations).

    The ones making these "criminal complaints" now are a rental shop association called ACAPOR. They target people sharing movies, of course. In January they delivered 1000 IP addresses to our attorney general's office. Yeah... they dont even own any copyrights and they are making complaints.

    PS: 7 dollars or euros still seems a bit much considering the major labels agreed to pay just $150 per song for their own copyright infringements in Canada last month. It was actual commercial infringement, by people who REALLY should know better. Seems to me, the fines for non-commercial file-sharing on the internet should be at least 100 times smaller.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 10:46pm

    Re: Re:

    "This difference highlights the problem of the infinite good, in that it doesn't cost to produce a copy and therefore is difficult to assign much of a price to it...."

    Ask the RIAA they won't have difficulty assigning a price to it. The funny thing is, this is the major rub for a lot of people. Copyright walls used to create a false scarcity of an infinite good. It's genius except when the walls are made of swiss cheese.
    Note to the RIAA, keep sticking your fingers in the holes and your heads in the sand.

     

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  31.  
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    martyburns (profile), Feb 22nd, 2011 @ 4:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The argument shouldn't be that distribution over the internet is zero, but it is certainly negligible.
    One server as you described could host 100,000s of songs and 'send' them to millions of people every year. Certainly magnitudes cheaper than sending a CD to each and every person who orders one..

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Michael, Feb 22nd, 2011 @ 5:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Your businesses data center, while it may be a fine one, is not at all relevant to this discussion.

    Let's assume I have a laptop already - because, say, I need one for work.

    I can walk into any McDonalds and connect to the internet for free.
    I can sign into my YouTube account that I was given for free using my GMail account login (which was free).
    I can now upload all of the music in my collection connected to videos of kittens playing (the kittens worked for food - that I was given at a local animal rescue for free).


    I can make this more expensive. Say, by hosting the content myself or using a paid hosting service. I can use an internet connection at my home. I can buy a computer specifically for managing these uploads. This does not change the fact that I CAN do this for free.

    Just because you decide to make something expensive does not mean it has to be. If you would like, I will be happy to consult for your business. From your post, I have to imagine you have lots of places in your business in which you can cut costs. I will not be cheap up front, but if you think sharing some mp3's will cost $40k annually, I can probably give you an ROI in less than a year.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    BobBarker, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 6:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Actual Harm

    The only problem with that is that in our legal system, civil lawsuits are not allowed for the "punishment" or teaching of the defendant. It's only purpose is to "undo" the damages. If someone did something that was worthy of being "punished" it would have to be tried in a criminal court. The RIAA tried this and got laughed at (because they could not prove damages were done). So now they are abusing the civil court, and are trying to convince judges and jurys that these massive fines are appropriate. What the judges should do is give a fine that the RIAA would be happy with... then stipulate that ALL of the damages go the the artists (not the labels or the RIAA). When the RIAA refuses, that would just go to show what the RIAA is REALLY about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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