60 Year Old Swedish Man Gets Sentenced To 'Conditional' Two Years In Jail For File Sharing

from the punishment-=-crime? dept

While yesterday we wrote about how a Swedish court acquitted a 15-year-old for file sharing some movies, today a court gave a 60-year-old man two years of conditional jail time along with a pretty large fine. The “conditional” jailtime appears to be like a form of probation, where if he meets certain criteria, he might never spend time in actual jail, but it’s still quite a sentence.

As Rick Falkvinge notes in the link above, even if this guy never sets foot in jail, the Swedish court has now established a ridiculous precedent for what file sharing can get you in terms of jailtime. Copyright issues like this should, at most, be a civil issue, rather than a criminal one, and it seems like a very dangerous move by Swedish law enforcement to start trying to sentence people to jail over something done so widely. When the punishment does not match at all with the real “harm” of the crime, people respect the law even less. I’m sure the supporters of such a move think that this will help with “education.” There’s almost no evidence to support that. Ridiculously punitive punishment does not do anything to stop infringement.

Instead, it seems likely that a ridiculous ruling like this merely helps undermine the respect that citizens give to copyright law.

Earlier today we compared a discussion on whether or not the punishment fit the crime for copyright infringement in France. Falkvinge provides a similar set of info for Sweden. This guy was sentenced to two years and a big fine. What other verdicts have come out recently in Sweden?

When you make the punishment way out of line with the crime, you’re not doing yourselves any favors. You just make people respect the law even less…

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Comments on “60 Year Old Swedish Man Gets Sentenced To 'Conditional' Two Years In Jail For File Sharing”

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42 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:15pm

Actually that’s expressly the point of the caparison, that the law is so crazy there is a set of circumstances where copyright violation gets a harsher penalty than murder. I’d say it would be logical were this never the case, the the most lenient murder sentence was always tougher than the harshest penalty for copyrigt violation. Were a crime ‘a crime’ as you suggest they’d all be equal but they’re not. Different crimes are worse than others.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, because knowing that a rapist will get out of jail 8 months before a file sharer is supposed to make me feel safer.

Those evil file sharers, sharing music and movies are far worse scum than people who sexual abuse children and rape people.

I mean, come on, someone waving a P2P application loaded with 2800 songs is far scarier than a person waving a gun with 6+ bullets in it.

There was a reason why the founders of the United States saw fit to include the 8th amendment and its protections from excessive fines and punishments. It is sad that it is being ignored like much of the rest of the Constitution, but it is cases like this that remind me why they thought it necessary in the first place. Granted we are not talking about the US, but the US founders were using abuses by European countries as a guideline for those amendments.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So if a justice system sentences a 9-year old to die by lethal injection for shoplifting an action figure, you’d be down for that? A crime is a crime, after all, so any punishment rendered is automatically justified, right?

And don’t even get me started on those women showing their ankles in some Islamic countries. You probably salivate just thinking about all the stonings you could mete out for that one! A CRIME IS A CRIME IS A CRIME!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Umm, no reading fail. Those are the most lenient sentences for those crimes possible, give based on circumstances.

If a law says “punishable by a jail sentence up to 10 years”, the judge has all the leeway to give 1 day instead of 10 years. It’s why more and more states (and the Feds) are trying to write laws with “minimum sentence guidelines” built in, except that some people get upset that the punishment sometimes does not fit the circumstances of the crime.

The Swedish man got 2 years suspended sentence. It’s different from getting 2 years hard time. It is about on par with getting 2 years probation in the US, which would be very different from getting 2 years in jail.

They try to compare “lightest possible” sentences for crimes to the “horrible over sentence” for the Swedish man, but in the end, he got probation. What’s the big deal?

Oh yeah, it’s called FUD!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ah, ACs how I love thee. Not only can you not understand the points being made by others, you mock something they are not asserting and then try to be smug about it. I’ll probably almost miss you when someone capable of arguing an actual position comes along.

Anyway, I can only repeat the words of AC @ 2:15pm above, which put it the best:

“the law is so crazy there is a set of circumstances where copyright violation gets a harsher penalty than murder.”

Do you get this? There should NEVER be a set of circumstances where child molestation, murder or armed robbery get lesser sentences than file sharing. Now, you can argue that this requires some reform in Swedish law to make sentences for those crime tougher, and I’d agree to some degree there. But instead, you’re arguing that this is OK and it’s actually Mike who’s in the wrong for whatever reason, yet again. Why are you so obsessed with attacking Mike, and why are you so poor at doing so?

“What’s the big deal?”

I wish you’d work out how stupid this question is.

“Oh yeah, it’s called FUD!”

I also wish you’d work out what that actually means, and how stupid you look every time you use it incorrectly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

well, the b*tch be cheetin’ /kidding

I can’t imagine any set of circumstances under which you could strangle someone to death and get a lighter sentence than file sharing. Even if there was some element of self defense.

However, this whole argument has been around comparison when there isn’t one to be made. Filesharing isn’t a jailable offense, regardless of those retarded Swedish laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

Makes sense to me

Make total sense to me. Homicide only affect the person who is dead, and their family members for a short period of time. But file share affect billions of artist, movie producers, movie prop makers, make up people, and the RIAA. The punishment for such a terrible crime should be a lot longer… Please not I am joking. And this comment is not protected by any copyright or wrong documents.

Khory (profile) says:

Re: Makes sense to me

“Homicide only affect the person who is dead, and their family members for a short period of time.”

Tell that to a child that loses a parent. There is a life long effect that is way more profound than any amount of monetary losses from file sharing.

If all these artists, etc don’t feel they make enough they are free to find new professions.

And billions? There are only aprox 6.75 billion people on the whole planet. Just how many do you think are professional artists???

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Makes sense to me

“Tell that to a child that loses a parent. There is a life long effect that is way more profound than any amount of monetary losses from file sharing.”

If you think about it, brutal homicide is actually very beneficial to the development of children.
If his parents weren’t killed, Bruce Wayne would never have been driven to become the vigilante hero known as Batman! Think of the amount of lives he’s saved! None of that would be possible without homicide!

Some Guy says:

Re: Re: Re: Makes sense to me

Lol. Nice response.

On a sort of related note, I hope you’re not the guy who came up with this beauty of a trolling attempt. (Mad props if you are. I can’t read it at all without laughing. If you aren’t, very strange that you mentioned it, because the similarities in that one section relating to Bruce’s parents are astounding.)

http://www.blogcdn.com/www.comicsalliance.com/media/2011/04/jesus-vs-batman.jpg

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re: Makes sense to me

Good illustration of the broken window fallacy.

Considering the number of other superheroes that have turned up in the DC universe, I’m pretty sure someone else could have filled in. And then Bruce Wayne could have spent all that money on feeding the poor instead of wasting it on high-tech toys to fight crime.

I recall someone suggesting that Batman likely could have saved money by simply buying out the criminals instead of spending money fighting them. Talk about worst return on investment ever. Add the insurance costs of getting beaten up and eventually having your back broken by a ‘roid freak.

I wonder if maybe Bruce Wayne didn’t actually pay the criminals to start crime waves so he had something to do… That would make an awesome alternate history story.

Some Guy says:

Re: Makes sense to me

“But file share affect billions of artist, movie producers, movie prop makers, make up people, and the RIAA. The punishment for such a terrible crime should be a lot longer…”

I still don’t get that argument. I never have. Those people all get paid for the work they do. The prop makers, the make-up people, etc. Basically, the working stiffs. They get paid either hourly or commissioned fees. That’s my understanding. As for artists, if by artists you mean musicians, ditto. They get their advances and their money from touring and promoting stuff. They get so little off album sales, in general, that they aren’t affected by file sharing. That’s the truth. If you mean artists as in actors/actresses. Ditto. They get paid their money up front to be in the movie. Some get extra depending how a film does, but for the most part they get their pay and that’s it. Anything after the fact is gravy.

The only ones affected by file sharing are the movie studios and record labels, and all the middle men. That’s another truth. It’s kind of wrong to say that people are getting affected when the ones who do any actual work aren’t. They get paid.

I’m not making excuses for file sharing, just pointing that out. That “it affects more people” line is either deliberately misleading or seriously misinformed.

out_of_the_blue says:

Undermines respect for law, yes, but should increase caution.

“Instead, it seems likely that a ridiculous ruling like this merely helps undermine the respect that citizens give to copyright law.”

Telling you, people, commercial interests have got the fix in. They will not mind getting draconian, and you’d better begin taking that into account not only for predictions here, but in your actions. — Of course, I expect you to stick defiantly to your freeloading rather than recognize facts. Don’t expect sympathy from reasonable people when you get caught.

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