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...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    Julian Assange isn't on the list, so it's invalid.

    /s

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:15pm

    Nice list, but sort of a fail. You cite the most lenient sentences for some crimes (without explaining why) and try to compare them to a strong sentence for file sharing. It's just not very logical.

    A crime is a crime, work with it.

     

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

  3.  
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    Joe Publius (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    It's the bugbear of indeterminate sentencing, or even sentencing guidelines. Sometimes folks seem to get off light, while other folks look like they got a Hammurabi level smack-down.

    I'm not saying that a great solution exists, but mandatory sentencing is no picnic either.

     

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  4.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:23pm

    Re:

    Which one needs context? the homicide by strangling or the sexual abuse of a child?

    You can pick nits, but I find great logic in wanting 100% lighter sentences for any amount of filesharing than for either of the above, under any circumstances.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:25pm

    Re:

    Crime is illegal!

     

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

  6.  
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    Ikarushka (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    ALL the punishments in US are insanely disproportional. Private incarceration outsourcing is one of the reasons.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:30pm

    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.

     

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  8.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:32pm

    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.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:32pm

    Re:

    ok, lets work with it.

    in Utah its a felony to persistently tread on the cracks between paving stones on the sidewalk of a state highway.
    Currently that makes most of the citizens hardened criminals.

    then again, we are talking about Utah so....

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:33pm

    Re:

    Legal slave labor yay! America is looking more and more like Imperial Rome everyday

     

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  11.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Re:

    It's true that it can be difficult to decide a sentence. However, I'm having a hard time figuring out a scenario where any amount of copyright infringement could possible get a sentence more than twice as long as sexual abuse of a child or four times as long as homicide by strangling.

     

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  12.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:44pm

    Re:

    Oh? What's the punishment for doing Julian Assange?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re:

    gonorrhea. oh, and then he'll post your medical records on-line

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    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.

     

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  15.  
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    Khory (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 2:58pm

    Re:

    Explain why? According to you "a crime is a crime". By your logic, context is irrelevant. A crime is a crime!


    I don't care if this guy was sharing hundreds of files. There is no way that is as severe or should be punished as severely as homicide or rape or abuse of a child under ANY context.

     

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  16.  
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    Khory (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:08pm

    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???

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:14pm

    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!

     

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  18.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:15pm

    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!

     

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  19.  
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    Some Guy, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:16pm

    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.

     

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  20.  
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    Some Guy, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:20pm

    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

     

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  21.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Re:

    An Oscar Wilde quote:

    "There's only one thing worse than not being noticed, and that's doing two years for buggery."

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Makes sense to me

    lol, no. But we are of the same mind; 'Ronald' is part of the union it seems.

     

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  23.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re:

    It's also a crime to walk barefoot on Miami's beaches without a permit.

    It also used to be legal to shoot a Welshman in York, provided it was with a longbow from a distance of precisely 12 yards on the battlements of the Castle.

     

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  24.  
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    Angelito (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re: Makes sense to me

    Calm down... Read the complete message

     

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  25.  
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    JMT (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 5:03pm

    Re:

    "You cite the most lenient sentences for some crimes (without explaining why)..."

    Reading fail. Those were actual sentences for actual crimes. Most people would consider them to be far worse than copyright infringement, but the sentences don't reflect that.

     

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

  26.  
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    abc gum, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "It's also a crime to walk barefoot on Miami's beaches without a permit. "

    When will you hippies learn proper attire ... Bermuda trunks, Hawaiian shirt and black knee highs with Don Johnson shoes - and do not forget the white belt.

    Now get off my lawn!

     

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  27.  
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    abc gum, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 5:13pm

    Re: Re: Makes sense to me

    You forgot about the poor popcorn farmers.

     

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  28.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 5:21pm

    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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  29.  
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    Rich, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Makes sense to me

    You disgust me. You're a despicable excuse for a human being.

     

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  30.  
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    MrWilson, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 6:54pm

    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.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 7:33pm

    Re:

    Sharing is not a crime.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 7:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Did you see the scary ladies sharing recipes on the bookstore?
    And it happens everywhere nobody is safe anymore.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Makes sense to me

    Correction suggestion:

    Please note I am joking. And this comment is not protected by any copyright or wrong documents.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 8:26pm

    Just my opinion, but it does seem to me that the definite dearth of any substantive information concerning this matter makes it a bit difficult to familiarize oneself with what actually transpired that led to court to render the opinion it did.

     

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  35.  
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    Anon, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 8:30pm

    I would like to point out that Japan has been arresting people for filesharing for years. Watching news in the anime community, every few months there will be a report that a number of people were arrested for using the Japanese p2p program share for illegal file sharing (usually with anime or computer games)

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:33pm

    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!

     

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  37.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:48am

    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.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 7:41am

    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.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 7:44am

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

    They just passed a law that people who make incredibly stupid comments online can go to jail for 5-15 years.

    Don't expect any sympathy from me when they come to arrest you this afternoon.

     

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  40.  
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    Miff (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 8:20am

    Something I've been wondering

    If filesharing is criminal instead of civil, does that mean that people who can't afford to defend would be able to get a public defender?

     

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  41.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:07am

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

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

    Yeah, I predict an increase in encrypted internet traffic in Swedent. What a great victory for the record labels.

     

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

  42.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:09am

    Re: Something I've been wondering

    In the US, if you're charged with a crime you're entitled to a public defender. I don't know if you have to just ask for it or if there are actual maximum income requirements to demonstrate you can't afford a lawyer. I'm thinking the latter. Sweden probably has something similar.

     

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


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