Swedish Copyright Trolls Have Brought Exactly Zero Of Their 'Cases' To Trial, Exposing Their Shitty Business Model
from the legal-blackmail dept
You may recall that the Swedish Pirate Party recently declared war on copyright trolls operating within Sweden. The party’s newfound efforts, which had remained far too dormant for far too long, come on the heels of an explosion in so-called “settlement letters” being sent out to Swedish citizens. Those letters, as is typical elsewhere, are armed merely with an IP address and a claim of infringing behavior. Despite this, Danish law firm Njord Law has been able to collect millions of dollars in “settlments” after sending out notices to tens of thousands of account holders of IP addresses alleged to have engaged in copyright infringement. Njord Law was able to get this data from Swedish ISPs by spending a great deal of time in court, claiming that it needed this customer information in order to get justice for the copyright holders it represents.
What makes that stated goal somewhat odd is that Njord Law appears to spend almost no time in the courtroom for literally anything else beyond getting this customer data. Despite the firm’s own admission that nearly half of the recipients of these letters don’t even bother to respond, the firm has brought exactly zero of these cases to the courtroom.
After trawling records held by the Patent and Market Court and all those held by the District Courts dating back five years, SVT did not find a single case of a troll taking a citizen to court and winning a case. Furthermore, no law firm contacted by the publication could show that such a thing had happened.
“In Sweden, we have not yet taken someone to court, but we are planning to file for the right in 2018,” Emelie Svensson, lawyer at Njord Law, told SVT.
Njord Law has made promises of courtroom appearances in the past as well, which have yet to materialize. And that really should tell you everything you need to know about the copyright troll business model. Whatever noises trolls might make about justice and the law, they have no interest in actually engaging the accused in the courtroom. Such litigation is expensive, for starters, compared with simply scaring people into handing over small settlement amounts essentially for free. Also, it would be in the courtroom that any challenge as to the quality of evidence being used to extract these settlements would occur.
The reality is that these trolls want to exist in something of a copyright DMZ, tossing out legal threats while never actually ending up in a courtroom battle. If that sounds like a species of blackmail to you, you aren’t alone.
“There is a risk of what is known in English as ‘legal blackmailing’,” says Mårten Schultz, professor of civil law at Stockholm University.
“With [the copyright holders’] legal and economic muscles, small citizens are scared into paying claims that they do not legally have to pay.”
Why the political representatives of the citizens of Sweden would choose not to outlaw these sorts of tactics is an open question. Surely a political party called The Pirate Party cannot be the only group opposed to the legal blackmailing of the Swedish public.