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Collection of Swedish IP Addresses Ruled Unlawful
June 10, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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APB has not faired well in its quest for Swedish copyright enforcement. Compared to its MPAA brethren, their plight to enforce Intellectual Property laws has been a comedy of errors. In fact, their credibility was recently damaged when APB tried to nab Bahnhof, one of Sweden’s largest ISPs, for facilitating music, movie and game piracy.

APB used an undercover agent, called "The Swede", to infiltrate and collect evidence against Bahnhof. After two years, APB clamored that it had seized a sizable amount of evidence against Bahnhof.

Just when it appeared APB had finally scored a victory, it was discovered "The Swede" was the individual doing the warez uploading. APB currently faces a series of investigations by the Swedish Data Inspection Board and National Post and Telecom Agency because of this event.

Today, APB's efforts were thwarted again when the Swedish Data Inspection Board ruled the collection of IP addresses is illegal. The Data Inspection Board received thousands of complaints from Swedish citizens against APB.

The APB's antithesis, Piratbyrån, helped inspire this protest. Piratbyrån is an organization dedicated to the education and representation of the file-sharers of Sweden. Their efforts include lectures at school, companies and other places interested in learning the current issues facing the file-sharing world.

To get Swedish citizen's perspective on the issue, we spoke with Tobias Andersson, Public Relations manager of Piratbyrån.

What Swedish organization or government agency ruled that Antipiratbyrån could not collect IP addresses?

No one in the government. Swedish Datanspektionen (DI) (an authority handling issues about personal integrity like registers of names and numbers) were the ones who ruled on this decision.

What exactly does this ruling mean, and what affect does the July 1st copyright law change have?

The ruling means that IP-numbers are considered personal information and cannot be put into registers by non-authorized authorities. Since APB are not an authority and have sent out 400,000 warnings by mail to file-sharers, their so called hunt for file-sharers are illegal.

It also means that everyone who has actually gotten a mail like this can sue APB. If APB’s number of 400,000 people is correct and you multiply that with, i.e. 8000SEK (1000$) you get...big cash. That is if everyone presses charges of course. Which will not happen, but it is some pretty nice numbers.

If the upcoming law meant nothing before, it means even less now. Since both the Swedish police and the minister of justice Tomas Bodstrom has said that they will not put any resources into chasing file-sharers.

So the only tiny little problem has been APB, who has filed some charges against random file-sharers this year with no results. The police have dropped the charges because they have more important cases going on, and now when they cant use IP-numbers, their chase has ended. So for all you readers who worry that The Pirate Bay will disappear the 1st of July, relax and buy some extra big hard drives.

Why is APB having very little luck enforcing copyright laws?

Hehehe…maybe because everyone hates them. Every poll in Swedish newspapers says that about 90% wants to legalize file-sharing. File-sharing is a part of every 7-8th Swede’s life according to a recent survey. This resulted in a funny headline in Aftonbladet (Sweden’s biggest daily newspaper), "Sweden’s most hated man". It was an article about their spokesman Henrik Pontén.

What was Piratbyrån’s role in making this ruling happen?

We're not going to take the whole credit for what has happened. Many forces have been involved. But I think that we have inspired many people to act in this question.

A few days ago, Antipiratbyrån reported 200 alleged pirates to the police...are these reports now null and void?

That number was referring to all their reports during the last years. Reports on people who sold pirated copies and a few who have uploaded copyrighted material. We don’t know yet if they are void but one thing is sure; no Swede has been judged guilty of file-sharing yet.

Editor’s note: The APB has applied for an exemption to the Data Collection Act, according to Sweden’s “The Local.”

"I've just heard that APB intend to ask for permission to continue storing data. We expect their application on Monday and then the Board will decide," said Data Inspection Board's Hans-Olof Lindblom.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Legal/Courtroom :: Court Rulings/Decisions
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Interviews
Entertainment Industry :: Other

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