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Founder Of Fan-Subtitle Site 'Undertexter' Loses Copyright Infringement Appeal

from the sinnesjuk dept

Just a quick update on the current craziness going on in the Swedish court system. In the middle of 2017, we wrote about the Swedish authorities raiding the offices of Undertexter, a site that provides fan-created subtitles of movies. Many people were confused by this, but the film industry has long branded fan-made subtitles as contributors to piracy, allowing people in foreign countries to download films and append the subtitles to watch them, rather than buying the localized version. The industry also argues that these subtitles are themselves copyright infringement, as they essentially reproduce the film's script in another language.

Founder Eugen Archy was convicted of copyright infringement. Ever the fighter, he appealed, but now we learn that Archy has lost his appeal as well.

On appeal, Archy agreed that he was the person behind Undertexter but disputed that the subtitle files uploaded to his site infringed on the plaintiffs’ copyrights, arguing they were creative works in their own right.

While to an extent that may have been the case, the Court found that the translations themselves depended on the rights connected to the original work, which were entirely held by the relevant copyright holders. While paraphrasing and parody might be allowed, pure translations are completely covered by the rights in the original and cannot be seen as new and independent works, the Court found.

The Svea Hovrätt also found that Archy acted intentionally, noting that in addition to administering the site and doing some translating work himself, it was “inconceivable” that he did not know that the subtitles made available related to copyrighted dialog found in movies.

Now, the good news is that losing this appeal only results in his original conviction and punishment of probation and a $26,000 fine. All told, that isn't the craziest punishment we've seen for copyright infringement. Those caveats aside, let's all remember that Undertexter gave away the fan-translations it hosted. The site didn't sell them. They were offered for free. And for the crime of providing free translations in markets that are often underserved by Hollywood, he now has a copyright infringement conviction on his record and a five-figure bill to pay.

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Filed Under: copyright, fan subtitles, fans, subtitles, sweden
Companies: undertexter


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2018 @ 4:28pm

    Re:

    Hollywood could then reach into its bag and pull out some talking points from the 1990s. Back then, people were posting very low resolution short clips of films, and Hollywood responded, claiming not just the standard line of copyright infringement, but also insisting that while these clips were not a direct substitute for people buying the movie, they *degraded* the experience of watching a film so much that they were just as harmful to their business as releasing full-resolution movies would have been (or by extension, a bad film review).

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