[NetBehaviour] Europe Goes Gently on P2P Piracy

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Tue Jul 12 19:52:17 CEST 2005

*Europe Goes Gently on P2P Piracy*

By Bruce Gain
02:00 AM Jul. 09, 2005 PT

A law banning digital distribution of copyright movies and music went 
into effect last week in Sweden, but enforcing the new law and others 
like it around Europe isn't proving easy.

On the surface, the enactment of the law might have ended the perception 
of Sweden as a reasonably safe haven if you wanted to download 
copyright-protected music, film or other files with little fear of any 
kind of legal ramification. However, catching those who continue to 
download and distribute copyright files in Sweden, as well as in many 
parts of Europe, will remain a challenge.

"We do have (privacy) legislation in Sweden, which makes it difficult to 
get the names from internet companies that know who has what IP 
addresses," said Malin Bonthron, a civil servant and attorney by 
training who helped draft the new law in Sweden. "So if you don't know 
who has been downloading materials but you have the IP address, it is 
not possible for you to guess their names."

The purpose of the law is also "to not try to get into everybody's home 
and search through their computers to see if they have downloaded 
materials," Bonthron said.

"I think that perhaps that the U.S. and the U.K. copyright laws are 
quite rigid compared to Swedish copyright law," she said.

Sweden, like many European Union member states, has enacted legislation 
to discourage downloading of pirated materials that follow the European 
Commission's European Copyright Directive, which was instituted in 2001. 
The directive was created to help standardize legislation between the 
different EU member countries.

While the United States and Britain share a similar common law heritage, 
many EU countries' court systems and legislative bodies take very 
different views of privacy, intellectual property ownership rights and 
other related issues. The differences make it more difficult for the 
entertainment industry to crack down on illegal file trading.

"At the beginning of the campaign against file sharers, IFPI (which 
represents the international recording industry) issued a press release 
that emphasized how tricky procedural rules in Europe are -- both in the 
civil and criminal law context," said Urs Gasser, a professor of law at 
the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland and a fellow at the Berkman 
Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. "It makes 
enforcement much more expensive and burdensome."

Maximum prison sentences that illegal file uploaders and downloaders 
face vary from two years in Sweden to an EU average of about four years 
to a possible 10-year sentence in Britain and the United States. 
Additionally, western European governments and courts have been 
reluctant to criminally prosecute their citizens who download or 
distribute film, music or other copyright-protected files, especially 
for nonprofit purposes.

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