Swedish BitTorrent User Accused Of Sharing Beyonce Album, Hit By $233,000 Lawsuit From Sony

from the that's-justice? dept

Lots of news regarding file-sharing has come out of Sweden over the years, but as TorrentFreak points out, until now, there’s never been a prosecution for alleged unauthorized sharing using BitTorrent. The current case is unusual in a number of other respects:

The claim is that on June 8, 2011 a man from Gothenburg shared Beyonce’s album ‘4’ in advance of its June 24 commercial release date. The case was made even more interesting following the revelation that the 47-year-old is a music industry worker.

Because the album in question was a pre-release version, the Swedish prosecutor says he believes a heavy punishment could be handed down. As if that weren’t enough, the label concerned — Sony Music Entertainment — has said that it intends to seek damages in a civil case:

In a submission to the Gothenburg District Court, Sony said that its business has been negatively affected by the leak on a number of fronts. The label says it has suffered damage to its marketing strategy, sales revenues and has also incurred additional costs. Sony adds that its relationship with Beyonce has been damaged and the artist’s reputation hurt.

For all of the above Sony say they will claim 1.5 million kronor from the man, which is roughly $233,000.

But as various studies have suggested, rather than hurting Sony, it’s just as likely that this leak helped make the official launch even more successful than it would have been. Similarly, it’s hard to see how Beyonce’s reputation was hurt by such a leak, since the more passionate the fan, the more pleased they would be by obtaining early access.

Anyway, the figure of $233,000 seems plucked out of the air, as is so often the case in this evidence-free area. Or perhaps it was inspired by the most famous damages imposed for unauthorized sharing of music, those against Jammie Thomas, who was fined $222,000 in her first trial (which then went up to $1,920,000 in the second trial, and to $1,500,000 in the third trial.) The fact that her sorry saga is still dragging on is an indication that even if Sony wins the current action, there are likely to be appeals against such a disproportionate and blatantly punitive figure.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: sony music

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Swedish BitTorrent User Accused Of Sharing Beyonce Album, Hit By $233,000 Lawsuit From Sony”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
anonymouse says:

Re: Re:

I tried to control myself i really did but i was not thinking when i hummed a song while i was in a supermarket, i know it wads wrong performing for people that heard me as i passed them by, and i know i possibly encouraged others to start humming and i apologies for that profusely, but to sue me for $223 000 is just too much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s not thin air. Leaking a record prior to release by an artist as big as Beyonce has a negative influence on pre-orders and sales, and pretending it doesn’t is just dishonest. I know you people don’t care about that kind of damage, but that says more about your selfishness and greed than anything else.

Sue that f*cker. Tired of people thinking there are no repercussions to bad behavior.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Leaking a record prior to release by an artist as big as Beyonce has a negative influence on pre-orders and sales, and pretending it doesn’t is just dishonest.

Even taking that statement at face value, how do you know that exactly 1.5 million kronor of damage was done? Without having a way to quantify the damage, it certainly was pulled out of thin air.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“I know you people don’t care about that kind of damage”

Once again, lying out of your ass about the very people you’re talking to doesn’t work. Attacks, insults and outright falsehoods don’t equal truth, no matter how much you wish they did.

I care about damages. I care about actual damages. Which do not equal a figure plucked out of the air, or reached out by making the blatantly false assumption that there’s a 1:1 ratio between downloads and “lost” sales.

Stop being an asshole, and listen to the actual arguments being made.

“Tired of people thinking there are no repercussions to bad behavior.”

You wouldn’t be if you open your eyes and realised that most of the people you are pissed off with are saying no such thing.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Tired of people thinking there are no repercussions to bad behavior.” quoth a lonely mouse…

1. as a general principle, it is difficult to disagree with that truism… (in fact, it is how our whole system works)

2. HOWEVER, when viewed as coming from YOU, it is hypocritical and disingenuous on many levels…

3. AND when considering the kreepy, greedy MAFIAA bastards who you associate with, it is doubly hypocritical and disingenuous…

4. not to mention, i can hardly get excited that someone who ALREADY has more money than is seemly is getting screwed over a few shekels… if it was someone ‘unknown’, then i’d feel a trifle more concerned; but if they were ‘unknown’, then they wouldn’t have been pirated in the first place…

5. briefly mentioned, is that the ‘offender’ was/is in the music industry: so aren’t you suing somebody ON YOUR ‘SIDE’ to protect their job ? ? ? does the cognitive dissonance make your ears ring ? ? ?

6. actually kind of curious as to how all these ‘leaks’ happen: industry insiders ‘steal’ the product to put out in the wild, but NO ONE ever hears about them breaking down doors to get the ORIGINAL thieves, ONLY the stupid kidz doing torrents of it after it is in the wild…

i wonder why these insiders do this ? ? ? is it because they too DESPISE the very industry they are in and its puppetmasters ? ? ?

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Leaking a record prior to release by an artist as big as Beyonce has a negative influence on pre-orders and sales, and pretending it doesn’t is just dishonest.

The actual data says… you’re wrong.


In fact, the report shows big time artists, like Beyonce, benefit even more.

I know you people don’t care about that kind of damage, but that says more about your selfishness and greed than anything else.

I know you people don’t care about that kind of “data” and “facts” but that says more about your myopia and denial than anything else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:


uh, what?

Did you even read that piece of garbage science?

It absolutely does not show that “leaks benefit sales”.

How do we know that? Because albums that didn’t leak, weren’t even included in the study!!! There’s no data comparison!!!

All that study shows is that the most popular music is the most pirated. Shocking!!!

But of course you ignore all that, and hungrily gobble it up because you can use it to try and turd-polish your beloved piracy. You are too funny.

Ninja (profile) says:

Fining the man seems to be appropriate in this case. I’m fairly sure he broke some contract clauses by releasing it early. I have mixed feelings about this kind of release. I do believe it generates buzz but I also think that the company should be the one deciding if they want to generate such buzz but again it’s something I need to sort out an opinion yet. In any case the purpose of the fine is completely lost when it’s that big (I’m not sure in Sweden but this would simply destroy my life). And it’s even worse when you consider Sony will try for further damages in other judicial routes.

Seriously, if I was that screwed by any company without any real reasoning I’d buy a lot of explosives and blow myself up inside their headquarters. Heh.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Reputation?

Yes of course those fans go get fucked, because those fans NEVER and I mean empirically proven NEVER buy music or merchandise or contribute financially in any way. It’s a fact, its infallible

looks at Crysis 2 and Sims 3

Oh yeah…forgot. Even those who get leaks still want to pay.

Seriously, why are you so insistent on punishing everyone? Demanding copyright enforcement to extreme levels harms everyone, including yourself.

anonymouse says:

Re: Re: Reputation?

So you think it is going to gain you more fans by telling one that has gone to the trouble this guy went to, to enable others to hear her latest crap to go get fucked , i doubt you will have any fans at all if you come out in the open and tell us who you are, but yellow chicken shit musicians that hide behind false names are nothing but drama queens that do not deserve to be selling any music at all.

PaulT (profile) says:

“the revelation that the 47-year-old is a music industry worker.”

So are the music industry going to actually start policing their own before trying to destroy useful business models and the rights of innocents? Unlikely.

“The label says it has suffered damage to its marketing strategy, sales revenues and has also incurred additional costs.”

I’d love these to be quantified. Most such claims always rest on the claim that sales were directly lost – which is not only unprovable, but often counter to the truth (people may download an album they’ve pre-ordered or even buy album tracks rather than just the singles as a result of the leak. I wonder what “additional costs” there were other than the inveitable failed attempts to close the door after the horse has bolted.

“Sony adds that its relationship with Beyonce has been damaged and the artist’s reputation hurt.”

Bull. An artist’s reputation has been hurt because some people got to hear an album before the label deemed it OK? this only makes sense if the album was a load of crap and thus fans were disappointed in its content, but that has nothing to do with a leak.

anonymouse says:

Re: Re:

I am going to download the album right now and i will not pay for it, ever, there , money lost or is it, i am only downloading it to piss these people off and would not have listened to it otherwise, and if it is good (i doubt it) i might buy it for my wife for xmas, but probably not now after this attack on the person that just wanted the music to be available to her fans.

Robert (profile) says:

Sold Well

Considering how the album performed commercially (quite well globally, hell, 1.3 million sold in the US in 4 months, 18th highest selling in the UK) I don’t see why they would be suing this guy.

If they have the metrics from the downloads (how many were seeded from the time the guy seeded it until even 2012) we could draw some interesting correlations with the data shown here:


G Thompson (profile) says:

The civil side to me sounds plausible

Other than the criminal side which is basically an anomaly with criminal charges under Swedish law (and not the gist of this comment of mine) I find that a civil suit brought by Sony highly justifiable in this instance. Bare with me people before you go all “WTF Thommo’s a Troll!!”

Firstly, I haven’t read any of the court documents and am only basing this on what I have read via here, TorrentFreak and some other sources.

It seems to me that the gist of this case is that the alleged pre-release of this Album was done by an actual employee/agent of the record industry themselves. Be that Sony, or a third party agent the respondent in this case was an internal third party to the inner sanctum of this release.

Therefore he under any employement/contract arrangement would of been bound by certain conditions. At the forefront of this would of been an absolute iron clad (dependant on jurisdiction) non-disclosure AND confidentiality agreement(s). This has been as far as Sony is concerned, absolutely breached and would of resulted in harm to them. harm to reputation by knowingly hiring this person, having to carry through an internal investigation, loss of face that they vicariously allowed this to happen by one of their own and thereby losing face with their own clients. And lets not forget the PR disaster that this would cause by acknowledging that one of the major ‘so called’ copyright infringement busts in a while was due to an internal agent and not a customer.

Sony would be mad not to go after this guy with everything they have, mainly so they can themselves mitigate any legal actions that could be taken against Sony by Beyonce et.al

The 1.5 million kroner is probably justified and would not be about just loss of sales of the Beyonce album, actually I would be surprised if that came into it, it would instead be damage and harm caused by the breach of the contract (implied and/or actual).

If instead though I am wrong (can’t read Swedish) and Sony are only going after the guy civilly under Copyright Infringement only, then Sony are idiots and my Advice to the management of Beyonce and Beyonce herself would be to instantly sue Sony for vicarious liability etc

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: The civil side to me sounds plausible

Ah… had to look him up.. I remember that and Yeah I know what you mean . Though two things

1. not statute law it’s contract law I’m talking about. With a bit of Neg thrown in maybe but both are not Statute based.

2. His children would not have had any contractual relationship in any way with the one he had, though interestingly he would have been bound by it and if he had foreknowledge of his children doing it he would of been bound by the contract to report it and also stop it using any legal method he could as their father.

Overcast (profile) says:

*While I don’t buy music…for some reason…I downloaded the leaks of Sims 3 and Crysis 2. Then went on to buy them. I’m not the only one.*

In 98% of cases – most people don’t buy software, movies, or music unless they have already heard it for free – or they are big on a specific title or artist; in which case, they’ll buy anyway most of the time.

I wouldn’t download this one for free. Just not interested.

Hell, you don’t need torrent for music downloads now anyway :O

bob (profile) says:

Yay! Fry leeching snoops

If the NSA pokes around in someone’s files, Mike is running to the barricades to protest. If the FBI records someone without a warrant, Mike is there to complain. But if some file “sharer” breaks into Beyonce’s private file system, snoops around and then broadcasts Beyonce’s private data around the world, Mike is there to apologize and come up with any sophistic rationalization about why it’s all “free speech” or some other looney idea.

Face it. These people were trafficking in someone’s personal information. If a big corporation did it, you would be screaming about privacy. But because it’s one of your lazy, cheapass couch potato friends, well, you’re going to support him or her.

PaulT (profile) says:

“some file “sharer” breaks into Beyonce’s private file system”

Any evidence for this, rather than say some reviewer copied a pre-release review copy or someone at a CD plant copied a master? No? You’re just full of shit again and have to attack even though the facts don’t fit the assumption you pulled of your ass? OK then.

“These people were trafficking in someone’s personal information.”

A music CD intended for commercial release is now personal information? You’re getting stupider by the day, I think.

Anonymous Coward says:

even if it did cost Sony this amount of money, by the time they have been through all the trials, what they get out of the guy, if anything, wont even pay the legal fees for the original trial. this is being done simply because it can be. Sony dont want or need the money, are aware of the negligible chance of getting anything, of the effects it will have on the accused and the negative feedback they will get. like all big companies, nothing is more important than at least appearing to be in charge and in control. look at the threats that were put to Geohotz to keep him quiet, when Sony were the wrong-doers

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...