Bahnhof Continues Its Crusade Against Copyright Trolls, Claims Swedish Copyright Law Divorced From Reality
from the good-guys dept
While it’s always great to have ISPs side with their customers rather than capitulate to copyright trolls or the governments that allow them to operate, few go to equal lengths as Swedish ISP Bahnhof. Bahnhof is known for taking all kinds of actions to protect its customers and for fighting back against copyright trolls as viciously as possible. Happily, Sweden’s Pirate Party has recently declared its own war on copyright trolls, giving the ISP an ally in the region.
But as the crusade by Bahnhof continues, the person in charge of the ISP’s communications has published an open post on the company’s site attacking the very heart of the laws that allow copyright trolls to operate in the first place. Here’s how Carolina Lindahl sets the stage for what is currently going on in Sweden.
Lindahl notes that the Swedish Government sees a need for strict copyright infringement penalties while keeping the barriers for creators to go to court low because they often have limited resources.
“In copyright litigation […], it is often the author himself who is a party, and usually the author has limited financial resources,” the Government’s code for Penalties for Certain Serious IP violations reads.
When it comes to the low barriers in the Swedish legal system for allowing copyright holders to unmask ISP customers and go after them for settlements, this is the entire justification. And, look, you can understand how this would seem logical to many people. A musician, or author, or indie filmmaker needs to be able to protect him or herself from copyright infringement in a way that is low-barrier in cost and time. It was with those types of content makers in mind that the Swedish government organized its current copyright law.
The problem for that same government is that Lindahl is dedicated enough to have dug into the data to find out if the premise that built these laws actually holds up. It does not. Not even close.
Lindahl sifted through the legal paperwork related to copyright infringement cases filed at the Criminal Court, to see which companies are behind them. The research uncovered 76 cases, the majority of which formed the basis for the tens of thousands of piracy settlement letters that were sent out. Only five of these cases were filed by the creator of the work, Lindahl notes. In other instances, the creators were represented by intermediaries or licensees, such as Copyright Management Services and Crystalis Entertainment. While these companies may have the legal right to pursue these cases, they are not the original creators of the films they sue over.
“The government’s claim – that it is often the author himself who is a party – does not seem to be correct at all,” Lindahl writes.
Lindahl goes on to note that the other premise, that these plaintiffs are authors of limited financial resources, is also untrue. Going through the cases that have led to copyright trolling efforts again, they tend to have been brought by organizations that have millions in revenue. Because of a reality that differs from the government’s premise, Lindahl argues that the end result is the extortion of citizens who actually are of limited means.
“The result is an extortion operation that is profitable for already profitable media companies and costly for young people, retirees, and other individuals on the margin, without the capability to tackle sudden costs of thousands of kronor.”
Frankly, this is as complete a takedown of the false reasons for allowing copyright trolling to be legal as I’ve seen to date. The Swedish government has a problem in that it’s reasoning for setting this copyright system up is on the record. That reasoning, as Lindahl has shown, is flawed beyond use. So that makes the law rather flawed as well.