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18 Dec, 2013 15:37

Swedish torrent uploader to pay $650,000 for sharing bad-quality movie copy

Swedish torrent uploader to pay $650,000 for sharing bad-quality movie copy

A Swedish court has sentenced a 28-year-old to a $650,000 fine, a suspended jail term and 160 hours of community work for uploading over 500 movies to a torrent tracker. The man has to pay the damages for uploading a bad-quality, pre-release film.

The Västmanland District Court said the unnamed Swedish Internet pirate was guilty of sharing 518 movies and TV shows on BitTorrent tracker SweBit, SvD Näringsliv reported Wednesday. The 2004-founded tracker specialized in Swedish-language content and closed down in 2011 after one of its users was arrested.

While rights holders, represented by anti-piracy outfit Antipiratbyran (now Rights Alliance) that carried out the investigation, dubbed the man Sweden’s “worst ever” individual movie pirate and demanded at least one year behind bars for the man, the judge ruled out a real jail term, TorrentFreak reports.

However, a single movie was found particularly precious by the court, as its rights holder, Nordisk Film, claimed to have experienced huge losses due to the fact it was uploaded about a month prior to the official release.

In total, Nordisk Film wanted 7.05 million Swedish crowns ($1.08 million) in damages for the illegal pre-release of the detective movie Beck – Levande Begravd (Beck – Buried Alive).

The entire theatrical revenue of the 2010-released Beck – Levande Begravd amounted to 9.25 million crowns ($1.4 million), according to the Swedish Film Institute. The film has been rated 6.2/10 by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and got average reviews from Swedish critics.

What fueled the company’s calculations was the poor quality of the uploaded copy of the movie. The court document published by SvD Näringsliv cited The Pirate Bay case and alleged that “poorer audio and image quality” damaged the reputation of the film.

The judge eventually lowered the fine to 4.3 million crowns ($658,000), but this nevertheless made it “the largest ever” damages award for a Swedish movie, according to Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén, cited by TorrentFreak.

The staggering sum “is equal to what the man would have paid if he had bought a license to distribute the movie for free downloads,” Pontén said.

“The man also has to pay damages for other losses such as disturbing the market and goodwill losses. This shows what damages are caused to the creators and rights holders by the illegal file-sharing of one movie,” the lawyer added.

The Swedish Pirate Party has been outraged by the decision, which coincides with The Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg’s appearance in Danish court on hacking charges.

“To receive such a harsh penalty for doing something carried out by millions of Swedes shows how outdated our legislation is. The only way forward is a radical reform of copyright law that allows for the sharing of culture,” said Gustav Nipe, chairman of the Young Pirates.

However, the Rights Alliance said it plans for more similar cases to be opened.

According to the group’s lawyer, “in the future a number of criminal cases are up for trial and damages will be brought forward for one or several movies.”