Copyright

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
copyright, fans, subtitles, sweden

Companies:
undertexter



With Court Ruling, Fan Subtitles Officially Copyright Infringement In Sweden

from the sadface dept

Several years ago, in an unfortunate display of police bending the knee to the copyright industries, Swedish law enforcement raided the offices of Undertexter, a site chiefly dedicated to fan translations for subtitles of films. While these fan translations have been handcuffed to film piracy -- mostly through the messaging efforts of film and television content producers -- the raid registered as an extreme escalation in the battle on subtitles. Most folks have a hard time understanding why such action was taken, with most fan translations only being useful due to the content makers underserving parts of the earth that speak a variety of languages. These fan translations mostly open up those markets for makers of movies and television who have otherwise chosen not to translate their work into the relevant languages.

For its part, Undertexter vowed to fight the legal action, proclaiming its work non-infringing by virtue of serving up mere dialog translations.

Undertexter.se has had a police raid this morning (July 9) and servers and computers have been seized, and therefore, the site is down. We who work on the site don't consider an interpretation of dialog to be something illegal, especially not when sharing it for free. Henrik Pontén [the copyright industry's primary henchman in Sweden], who is behind the raid, disagrees. Sorry Hollywood, this was the totally wrong card to play. We will never surrender. [...] We must do everything in our power to stop these anti-pirates. [...]

Well, the fight is now over and, unfortunately, the man behind Undertexter has been convicted of copyright infringement.

The Attunda District Court sentenced the now 32-year-old operator to probation. In addition, he has to pay 217,000 Swedish Kroner ($27,000), which will be taken from the advertising and donation revenues he collected through the site.

While there were millions of subtitles available on Undertexter, only 74 movies were referenced by the prosecution. These were carefully selected to ensure a strong case it seems, as many of the titles weren’t commercially available in Sweden at the time.

During the trial, the defense had argued that the fan-made subtitles are not infringing since movies are made up of video and sound, with subtitles being an extra. However, the court disagreed with this line of reasoning, the verdict shows.

What ultimately happened here is that Undertexter had translations for a few films available legitimately in Sweden and the prosecution proceeded to essentially pretend like those films were the whole story. The reality is that sites like Undertexter are primarily useful because those legitimate options, including the relevant language translations, are not available. Sites like this are used by many who buy movies and television and then apply the fan-subs afterwards. Customers who would, in other words, not be able to be customers if not for the fan-subs. The piracy portion of these subtitles is incidental to the mission, in other words, but the copyright industries in Sweden claimed that piracy was really the whole point.

On the other hand, one wonders exactly how much Swedish tax money was spent to bring a guy who ran a subtitle site to the tune of probation and $27,000? Is this really the best use of everyone's time?


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Sep 2017 @ 6:13pm

    Only one thing to do then

    Become fluent enough in every language you might run across such that you are able to translate on the fly and enjoy movies from different areas that would otherwise be incomprehensible to you. It's not like learning new languages is hard or anything, so clearly the people making use of fan subtitles are merely lazy criminals engaging in a practice that causes untold damage to the film industry.

    ... or I suppose you could just ignore any movies in languages you don't know. That's might be cheaper, and as the oft said saying goes, 'If you don't like/know the terms/languages, do without', so I'm sure the industry will be quite content with people going that route.

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

    • identicon
      Nick-B, 20 Sep 2017 @ 9:13pm

      Re: Only one thing to do then

      Exactly. This is why Hollywood never releases any American films in China. Oh wait....

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Sep 2017 @ 5:26am

        Re: Re: Only one thing to do then

        What? What does the fact that some studios are willing to translate some films to another language in order to serve another market have to do with the fact that, as subtitle sites like this demonstrated, most of the time they don't do that since they don't feel the market in question is large enough to bother?

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

        • identicon
          Nick-B, 21 Sep 2017 @ 4:43pm

          Re: Re: Re: Only one thing to do then

          I guess my badly point was (I had to re-read it myself a handful of times...) a quick one-off in reply to "or I suppose you could just ignore any movies in languages you don't know"

          I thought I was being snarky about how obvious it was that the movie companies seem to ignore foreign markets unless it suits them. I can't, for the life of me, think of how it works, so I'm sorry.

          I was trying to laugh at the movie companies, and ended up dumping sand on my own foot.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 6:39am

        Re: Re: Only one thing to do then

        I really hate idiots that write "oh wait" after their idiotic statement, like it somehow adds legitimacy.

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

  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 20 Sep 2017 @ 7:16pm

    Med domstolsregleringen, Fläktens undertexter Officiellt upphovsrättsintrång i Sverige

    För flera år sedan, i en olycklig polisvisning som knäböjde knäet till upphovsrättsindustrin, slogs den svenska brottsbekämpningen undertexterens kontor, en plats som främst ägde rum till fanöversättningar för filmtexter. Medan dessa fläktöversättningar har handbojsats till filmpiracy - mestadels genom film- och tv-innehållsproducenternas meddelandehantering - registrerades raid som en extrem eskalering i slaget om undertexter. De flesta människor har svårt att förstå varför en sådan åtgärd togs, med de flesta fläktöversättningar är endast användbara på grund av innehållsskaparna som underskrider delar av jorden som talar en mängd olika språk. Dessa fläktöversättningar öppnar mestadels de marknaderna för film- och tv-tillverkare som annars har valt att inte översätta sitt arbete till relevanta språk.

    För sin del lovade Undertexter att bekämpa den rättsliga åtgärden och förklarade sitt arbete icke-kränkande genom att tjäna upp bara dialogrörelser.

    Undertexter.se har haft en polisattack i morse (9 juli) och servrar och datorer har beslagtagits och platsen är därför nere. Vi som arbetar på webbplatsen anser inte att en tolkning av dialogen är något olaglig, särskilt inte när den delas gratis. Henrik Pontén [upphovsrättsbranschens främsta hantverkare i Sverige], som står bakom razzin, är oense. Tyvärr Hollywood, det var det helt fel kortet att spela. Vi kommer aldrig att ge upp. [...] Vi måste göra allt i vår makt för att stoppa dessa anti-pirater. [...]

    Nå är kampen nu över och tyvärr har mannen bakom Undertexter dömts för upphovsrättsintrång.

    Attunda tingsrätt dömde den nu 32-årige operatören till prövning. Dessutom måste han betala 217 000 svenska kronor (27 000 dollar), vilket kommer att tas från reklam- och donationsintäkterna som han samlat in via webbplatsen.

    Medan det fanns miljontals undertexter på Undertexter, hänvisades bara 74 filmer av åklagaren. Dessa var noggrant utvalda för att säkerställa ett starkt fall som det verkar, eftersom många av titlarna inte var kommersiellt tillgängliga i Sverige vid den tiden.

    Under försöket hade försvaret hävdat att de fanatiska undertexterna inte kränker eftersom filmerna består av video och ljud, med undertexter som extra. Domstolen var emellertid oenig med denna resonemang, domen visar.

    Vad som till sist hände här är att Undertexter hade översättningar för några filmer som lagligen finns i Sverige och åtalet fortsatte att väsentligen låtsas som om filmerna var hela historien. Verkligheten är att webbplatser som Undertexter är främst användbara eftersom de legitima alternativen, inklusive relevanta språköversättningar, inte är tillgängliga. Sidor som detta används av många som köper filmer och tv och sedan tillämpar fan-subs efteråt. Kunder som med andra ord inte kunde vara kunder om inte för fan-subs. Piratkopieringsdelen av dessa undertexter är oavsiktlig för uppdraget, med andra ord, men upphovsrättsbranschen i Sverige hävdade att piratkopiering verkligen var hela punkten.

    Å andra sidan undrar man exakt hur mycket svenska skattepengar spenderades för att få en kille som körde en undertextsplats till låneprov och 27 000 dollar? Är detta verkligen den bästa användningen av allas tid?

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 20 Sep 2017 @ 9:24pm

      Re: Med domstolsregleringen, Fläktens undertexter Officiellt upphovsrättsintrång i Sverige

      I was wondering why when I opened the page Google popped up a box asking me if I wanted to translate this page. Now I know why.

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

      • icon
        jameshogg (profile), 21 Sep 2017 @ 1:42am

        Re: Re: Med domstolsregleringen, Fläktens undertexter Officiellt upphovsrättsintrång i Sverige

        "You want to translate this page? Well too bad, our Content ID algorithms won't let you."

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re: Med domstolsregleringen, Fläktens undertexter Officiellt upphovsrättsintrång i Sverige

        Wait, so you are claiming that Google is engaging in copyright infringement (by translating and providing a 'usable' language for you???)

        Dirty rotten pirate Google

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2017 @ 7:48pm

    YAY! Justice triumphs again!

    Oh, I suppose can read more than the headline. Hang on a sec...

    Sheesh. First paragraph has same slimy slant as ever here: "open up those markets for makers of movies and television who have otherwise chosen not to translate their work into the relevant languages." -- By which you mean allow non-paying pirates to wallow in entertainments that the owners have controlled, for whatever reason, as is their Right, to not market there.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2017 @ 7:50pm

      Re: YAY! Justice triumphs again!

      What others make is NOT yours to dispose of, pirates, even if fully believe that you're helping. -- But in fact, that's only helping pirates to float on their sea of fantasy, not the producers to gain deserved money for making ideas visible.

      "In addition, he has to pay 217,000 Swedish Kroner ($27,000), which will be taken from the **advertising and donation revenues he collected through the site.**" -- And yet you pirates claim there's no money gained from infringement. Just wrong and lying all round.

      Another good solid victory for productive people over pirates. YAY!

      ---

      Is Techdirt shortening the limit from TOR yet more? Because two first attempts didn't work: the above right in.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2017 @ 8:10pm

        Re: Re: YAY! Justice triumphs again!

        I'm glad to hear that you'll be paying Mike a stipend for making use of his work. Way to stick to your ideological guns!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 7:06am

        Re: Re: YAY! Justice triumphs again!

        Techdirt is against filthy pirates using TOR.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 10:02am

        Re: Re: YAY! Justice triumphs again!

        Okay first, it is INCREDIBLY insincere to talk about the evils of denying producers 'deserved' money considering how these producers 'Hollywood Accounting'(tm) regularly screws over people who stand to otherwise gain 'deserved' money.

        Secondly, the vast majority of films these fan-translations were being offered for were things that these producers DIDN'T STAND TO GAIN MONEY FROM because the films weren't localized, as stated in the article. It is probable that many of the fan translations they targeted were posted during a time the 74 movies mentioned had no market there!

        Thirdly, these producers you feel so sorry for aren't getting paid for subtitles, they are getting paid for the end product of the film. A work of audiovisual media. The subtitles are an ancillary service offered for the convenience of those who don't understand the offered language and the hearing impared. Unless you are stating that the subtitles alone amount to an experience that utterly replaces the film itself the argument seems invalid, since piracy of the film itself is a separate issue. Unless these producers you are sympathetic towards are charging strictly for the translations, they are not even in a competing market, and the act of subtitling a foreign movie could arguably under any proper fair use distinction be considered transformative and non-competing.

        FOURTHLY, I am sick and tired of this mentality that media can be freely denied to entire markets of people, often entire countries or even continents on the whims of the people who made it. As a writer and independant business owner, as well as an avid consumer of manga, anime and live japanese television, I can confidently say if you do not want to adaquitely serve an area, you have no right to bitch when someone else does it for you. If you want to POORLY service an area, don't bitch when someone else does it better than you. Fan translation efforts are the only legitimate way for me to actually experience a lot of foreign media I enjoy because the home market doesn't think it worth trying to serve me as a customer.

        Finally, while you are least likely to accept this particular argument, if you can't stand not having complete 100% control over your creative work, be it film, photography, illustration, animation, music or whatever, your best bet is to never show it to the public. The idea that you as the creator can dictate who in the world is worthy of trying to enjoy your creative work is not only selfish and egotistical, it is logistically impossible and frankly batshit insane.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2017 @ 8:56pm

      Re: YAY! Justice triumphs again!

      "Oh, I suppose can read more than the headline."

      That's funny because you didn't.

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 20 Sep 2017 @ 9:07pm

      Re: YAY! Justice triumphs again!

      Kindly mark this post as abusive, as any honest and proper response to your post would be.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2017 @ 10:30pm

      Re: YAY! Justice triumphs again!

      So if they choose not to market there then what money was lost? Get over yourself.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 4:18am

      Re: YAY! Justice triumphs again!

      I have no idea what you said as you don't speak in a language i understand so i will need to get subtitles that will tell me what you said. Oh wait those subtitles will be copyright infringement so i will never get to know what you said and i don't want to break the law so i will click the report button instead!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2017 @ 8:11pm

    If you outlaw subtitles, then everyone will still have subtitles because unjust laws aren't respected.

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

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 20 Sep 2017 @ 8:48pm

    so do I have to pirate this ruling or is it available with English subtitles?

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

  • identicon
    Daydream, 20 Sep 2017 @ 8:53pm

    What on earth was the court's reasoning?

    Did they think that translating enough of the script of a movie constituted copyright infringement, or something?
    Will sites like IMDb be in danger of being sued for having quotes now?

    Hey, Monty Python & the Holy Grail had an option on the DVD to play it with subtitles taken from Henry IV.
    Perhaps all subtitlers should do that from now on, create subtitles that tell a completely different story from what's happening on screen. Like the Downfall parodies.
    I'd like to see a court label THOSE subtitle files as infringing.


    ...But yeah, back on topic, could someone clarify for me, in English, not Swedish, how the court came to the conclusion that translating the language used in a movie in such a way that the translation can be used as subtitles, caused an actual loss of opportunity for profit to the copyright owner?

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

    • identicon
      Nick-B, 20 Sep 2017 @ 9:18pm

      Re: What on earth was the court's reasoning?

      Perhaps they just chose videos that hadn't been legally released in Sweden, and if he provided subtitles then he must have downloaded it illegally.

      I think that the movie companies don't think importing DVD's from outside your region is legal, either. After all, DVD regions are, apparently, still a thing?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 4:51am

      Re: What on earth was the court's reasoning?

      Pleasing Hollywood is all the reason they need.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2017 @ 9:57am

      Re: What on earth was the court's reasoning?

      ...But yeah, back on topic, could someone clarify for me, in English, not Swedish, how the court came to the conclusion that translating the language used in a movie in such a way that the translation can be used as subtitles, caused an actual loss of opportunity for profit to the copyright owner?

      Did they come to that conclusion? The article didn't say that, and (in most countries) it doesn't need to be shown to prove copyright infringement. Most countries also don't have the level of fair-use protections the US does.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2017 @ 11:43pm

    As long as spending money is considered "speech", only the rich will ever be heard.

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

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 21 Sep 2017 @ 1:30am

    Netflix, Amazon ....

    I have cancelled both my Netflix and my Amazon subscriptions when it turned out that most of their content has neither original or English language tracks nor (English) subtitles here in Germany.

    When will the content providers learn that customers will pay when they get what the customers want, not what the content providers want to push?

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

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 21 Sep 2017 @ 2:01am

    Imagine having the absolute nerve to say speakers of a certain language in a certain country should be forbidden from watching a movie in its full. Or reading a book. Or any free expression. While others can do so. At the sole whim of a copyright holder. In any other situation this would be called discrimination, or in even worse cases than this, xenophobia and racism.

    I mean, let me really, really get this straight: if the viewers of these movies decided not to get the fan translations and instead decided to learn how to speak English as a second language, then imported the raw movies to enjoy them in that second language, *it is the viewers who are in the moral wrong and the imports should be banned in order to appease the pathetic solipsism of the copyright holder who doesn't want his movie to even be translated within the privacy of the viewers' own minds?*

    Because there is no difference there.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Ripples Advisory (profile), 21 Sep 2017 @ 2:34am

    Unable to translate the above language

    Really I can't able to translate from that box and maybe this is a heavy site that my browser is still buffering, now can you please tell me the solution?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 3:03am

    Level Achieved

    Nose bitten → face spited.

    Short-sighted, moron badge awarded.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 3:55am

    as with all wins by the copyright industry for, mainly, movies and television, which involve subtitles, there is never any official offering afterwards! the whole aim of the court cases is to maintain control of the media, regardless of everything else and customers are always at the bottom of the list! if the closing down of every type of so-called 'piracy' site then led to the official releasing of what the 'pirate' site was providing, i think people would understand but as nothing is ever released to replace what the industries have removed, there is almost always total bewilderment, and quite rightly so! this applies to the actual media as well, ie, the movies, tv series and music etc, etc. the constant whinging and whining by the studios and bosses about the huge losses made because of piracy has never and will ever be substantiated. however, if this was true, instead of just doing half a job, shutting down the means that is costing so much, taking so much from the official coffers, why is there NEVER, EVER anything official put out instead, at sensible prices etc that then competes with what has supposedly been so devastating to the industries? the obvious answer is, there was never any threat to the cost at all and it is only used as a tool to get the usual, completely corrupt politicians to put in place greater protections for an industry that cant bear the thought of doing what it needs to do, what it should do to keep customers, both as far as paying and as having respect! the way the industries have acted, is it any wonder that there is so little of either now??

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Sep 2017 @ 7:56am

    Copyright gives us the right to have total control!
    How DARE you offer a service we are unwilling to offer to consumers.
    How DARE you offer them for free!
    How DARE you steal imaginary money from us that we might someday make when we finally get around to thinking about maybe we should offer subtitles.

    But then one only needs to look at the rental version of "Up" where the main character had a hearing aid & they left off subtitles for the hearing impaired because it MIGHT have hurt their retail sales. Because everyone willing to pay the small fee for RedBox is totally going to spend 30x's the price to 'earn' the right to be treated like someone worthy of being acknowledged.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 9:00am

      Re:

      How does this jive with the ADA?

      Shouldn't there have been lawsuits filed over not providing for the hearing impaired, or have they managed to loophole themselves out of caring for anything but their bottom-line?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 12:56pm

        Re: Re:

        I think it would be fun to see the ADA trolls fight copyright trolls. Unfortunately, at least in US, I think all movies in english do have english subtitles so ADA wouldn't ever get involved.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 8:32am

    Sweden isn't reknowned for being much interested in anything other than shitting on it's own people and doing whatever the USA tells it to do, bei it the US government or, mor usually, Hollywood and the US entertainment industries. we saw exactly how they perform when they totally crapped on The Pirate Bay 4 by leaving in place for the trial a judge who not only had direct ties to the US entertainment industries, but was an active member of part of them! i just wonder how much the asshole judge in this case was paid to throw even local law out the window in order to please those mentioned above and stop yet something else that has aided the public worldwide for many years? and let's face it, if the cunts in Hollywood etc were to be more interested in listening to and catering for their own customers, providing everything that they themselves should but wont, there wouldn't be any need for this sort of crap to occur in the first place. just another example of what lengths the entertainment industries will go to so as to be able to keep the control they have had (but shouldn't have had) for 80+ years and how their customers mean next to fuck all to them when there is a choice between those customers and extorting money/control instead!!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 7:47pm

      Re:

      100% Sweden is an international joke. Their police minister recently resigned because he is unable to enforce the law, because of the femnzai politicians who want to protect rapists. They are truly insane.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 21 Sep 2017 @ 10:16am

    They went after a very famous subtitles site here as well. It was shut down. The impact in the availability of subtitles online was zero.

    Sad to see Sweden going deeper and deeper in the mud.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2017 @ 2:39pm

    This is an attack on culture. Plain and simple.

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


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