Swedish Teenager Turned Over To Police By School Headmaster For File Sharing Acquitted By Court

from the one-part-of-this-is-absurd dept

Last week, there was a lot of attention to criminal charges brought against a 15-year-old kid in Sweden, after his school's headmaster turned him over to the police after discovering some downloaded films and file sharing software on his computer. It did seem absurd to charge him with a crime, rather than civil infringement, but that's what happened, and the prosecutor in the case seemed almost gleeful about the possibility of convicting the boy of a crime. Except... it took just a few days for the court to acquit the boy. The ruling involved a head judge and three "lay judges." From my understanding of the Swedish judicial system, "lay judges" are somewhat (though not exactly) akin to a jury in the US (Swedes feel free to chime in and clarify). There was apparently a split among the lay judges, with two voting against conviction and one being in favor. The split resulted in acquittal. The prosecutor, rather than recognizing the sheer absurdity of the case, instead insists that it's "absurd" the kid was acquitted, and now vows to appeal. Because there's nothing more important than convicting someone of a crime for sharing a couple movies. Honestly, if Swedish prosecutors wanted to draw more support for the Swedish Pirate Party, I don't think they could have picked a better strategy.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    Bork Bork Bork

    Bork Bork Bork Bork

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Rick Falkvinge, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    Lay Judges

    For once, I'll try to be a bit informative. :)

    The Swedish system works like this: you have an educated judge who went to law school in a panel of four at the lowest court. The other three are politically appointed from the municipal level.

    They vote on the verdict. In the case of a 2-2 split, the option that favors the defendant wins. Here, two out of four wanted to acquit, so acquittal it is.

    The idea with this is that if a law is obviously bonkers and out of touch with reality and, as it's called, "the public perception of justice", then the lay judges are able to overrule the schooled judge.

    In terms of checks and balances achieved, it is therefore similar to the jury system.

    However, the lay judges are in a minority in the appeals court, and absent from the supreme court.

    Cheers,
    Rick

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:15pm

    Wonder how much..

    the courts there are getting from the swedish equivalent of RIAA/MPAA to prosecute the kid?

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:16pm

    Cue trolls crying about Mike 'defending piracy' in 3 2 1...

     

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

  5.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Bork Bork Bork

    Great, now I got to run this thru Babelfish to get an answer to that judicial question...

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Fushta (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Bork Bork Bork

    Per Google Translate: No definitions found. Please reply in English :)

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Mumfi., Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    Will never hold in the appeal court.

    If the Judges had ruled according to the law they would have convicted the kid. He has confessed to the factual circumstances and he has "upsåt" (intent to commit the crime) or at least likgiltighetsupsåt which implies that he probably would have done it even if he knew it was illegal. An upper court will convict.

    Also, even if he is not convicted for lack of intent (dolus), the copyright holders may still drive the case in a civilian court for damages, as he after all has confessed the circumstances (culpa). And really the damages is the real punishment here.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    JesseJ, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 1:48pm

    Swedish Courts

    Your description is fairly consistent with Stieg Larson's when they are trying Salander toward the end of "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest".

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    "Because there's nothing more important than convicting someone of a crime for sharing a couple movies"

    No, it is "Because there's nothing more important than convicting someone of a crime."

    Mike, you have become a real apologist for all sorts of illegal behaviour recently. What gives?

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Will never hold in the appeal court.

    I'd say the damage is already done at this point, the whole '15 year old kid' part will further dehumanize the pro-copyright people in the eyes of the Swedish public.
    It's a win-win for the Pirate Party regardless of the outcome of the case, and a PR nightmare for anyone arguing for stronger copyright.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Ven, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Re:

    No, it is "Because there's nothing more important than convicting someone of a crime."


    And here I thought that seeing that justice is done was more important.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    ASTROBOI, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Ironic

    The irony is; we can't show you a picture of the kid or even tell you his name because his privacy is so important. But we can put him in jail or screw up his life. But only in private.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:16pm

    Re:

    AC, you've been using more and more strawmen lately. What gives?

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    TheBigH (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Lay Judges

    Thanks for the info. This seems like a sensible system that can defend itself to some extent against the letter of the law being used to obtain clearly perverse results.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:24pm

    Appeal

    > The prosecutor, rather than recognizing the
    > sheer absurdity of the case, instead insists
    > that it's "absurd" the kid was acquitted,
    > and now vows to appeal.

    The government can appeal an acquittal in Sweden?

    Holy crap. That's much more troublesome than an inappropriate application of copyright law.

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    el_segfaulto (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Lay Judges

    Excellent explanation. Very much appreciated.

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    el_segfaulto (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:29pm

    Re:

    So, as a United Statsian I am obviously for convicting people of crimes provided that they are proven guilty AND that the punishment is in proportion. This is equivalent to ruining somebody's life for running a stop sign (a crime with more serious repercussions than any non-commercial IP infringement).

    If it was a slap-on-the-wrist and/or some community service it would be one thing. I will certainly grant the European system hasn't been doling out excessive penalties like the **AA lackeys on this side of the pond, but anything more than 10x the lowest commercial price for the films in question is completely disproportionate to the actual damage done to society by his "crime".

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Will never hold in the appeal court.

    I am more curious how they got statements from a minor who had no one there to make sure this rights were being upheld.

    I don't claim to understand the differences in the legal systems from the US to Sweden, but one would expect that a teacher demanding answers from a student to use in a criminal case would be looked upon poorly.
    You have someone in authority demanding answers - or else.

    Can anyone share information about how the system works in Sweden per the rights of the accused and such please?

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Ed, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:53pm

    Re:

    Oh come on, be real !! We are not talking about murder or kidnapping or assault. So, according to you, let's build thousands of jails with tax payers money for the millions who at least once in a lifetime downloaded a movie for private viewing. There are zillions of more important things in life, stop being uptight.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 5:02pm

    Re:

    And you are out of touch with reality if you believe sharing anything is any kind of crime.

    Apologist for authoritarianism?

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Appeal

    double jeopardy?

    I'll take Full-Retard for 500 Alex.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Swedish Courts

    In watching the three movies I was very intrigued by the machinations of the Swedish judicial system.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    TN, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 9:15pm

    Re: Will never hold in the appeal court.

    I just HAD to Google Translate 'likgiltighetsupsåt' to hear what it sounds like :)

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Paul, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:04pm

    Re:

    It's a civil matter not a criminal one.

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:42pm

    Re: Re: Appeal

    One wonders if double jeopardy exists in Swedish courts.

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Aug 30th, 2011 @ 11:46pm

    Re:

    No, it is "Because there's nothing more important than convicting someone of a crime."

    So therefore using your logic, the USG or the individuals in the DOJ should be charged with misprision because they have NOT charged anyone with the alleged crime in the 'Puerto 80' matter.

    Think you will find the relevant Federal offence under 18 U.S.C. § 4:
    Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Mumfi., Aug 31st, 2011 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re: Will never hold in the appeal court.

    In Sweden there is no such thing as illegal evidence. All evidence may be used regardless of how it was obtained, even hearsay or illegal searches and such. Evidence is then evaluated by the Judges. If the boy was questioned without a parent percent, that’s another court case right there, it does not affect the admittance of the questioning protocols as evidence thought.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    WysiWyg (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:26am

    Re: Re: Lay Judges

    No, the system is not sensible. It just means that the political arm gets their fingers in the judicial arm.

    It's an affront to democracy. Just because they for once ruled "the right way", does not mean that the system works. Even a blind squirrel you know...

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    WysiWyg (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:28am

    Re: Lay Judges

    You forgot to mention that "the public" in "the public perception of justice" is defined as "whatever The Party says", not necessarily what the "general public" feels.

    Your entry almost reads as a defense for this insanely broken system. Please tell me that I'm mistaken.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 4:05am

    Boy must understand that everything has a price, sharing is for criminals.

    You want food? PAY.
    You want water? PAY
    You want help? PAY
    You want culture? PAY

    PAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAY PAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAYPAY

    Now go to jail to be sodomized and think about it, muhahahahah.

    Then come out as a true criminal.

     

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

  31.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Will never hold in the appeal court.

    thank you for explaining that.

    I'm shocked by it, but I think that is because we have a much different system in the US that we like to think is "fair" and from our point of view that is "wrong" to allow everything in even if it was gathered illegally.

    But it seems like Sweden has things in place to help keep the scales balanced.

     

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

  32.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:44am

    Fixed that for you

    > Honestly, if Swedish prosecutors wanted to draw more
    > support for the Swedish Pirate Party, I don't think
    > they could have picked a better strategy.


    Honestly, if Swedish prosecutors wanted to draw more
    support for the Swedish Pirate Party, I don't think
    they could have picked a better TRAGEDY.

     

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

  33.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 11:57am

    Re: Bork Bork Bork

    Ok, I think I understand what happened, from the original article.

    The content companies wanted the teenager to lay some eggs, via payment for watching/hearing their music/videos. Instead, the headmaster found out that the teenager instead had laid a bomb, which was in the form of pirated content in his computer. He chased the teenager with a rolling pin but he managed to get away, so he turned him in to the swedish prosecutor, who then put the teenager in a pot. But then the court opened the pot and let the teenager go free. And now the prosecutor is threatening to appeal and pursue the teenager with a meat cleaver.

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Sean, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:19pm

    Re:

    I'll share something with you, You're a Troll...

    Now sue me.

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 6:15pm

    Re: Re:

    Troll not troll,

    thank you

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This