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Sweden considering tougher sentences for rampant pirates

By | Published on Wednesday 1 February 2017

The Pirate Bay

Swedish lawmakers are considering following their UK counterparts in increasing the sentences for people involved in large-scale online piracy operations.

Sweden, home to both Spotify and The Pirate Bay of course, is reviewing its copyright regime, and that includes considering giving police more power to tackle large-scale online piracy set-ups, and increasing the sentences for people convicted of running them.

In the UK, ministers have recently moved to bring sentences for those running large-scale online piracy operations in line with the jail terms that can be given to people convicted of running CD or DVD bootlegging businesses. Which means a maximum potential sentence of ten instead of two years.

It also means that prosecutors can push for a longer jail term for those running piracy websites under copyright law, without having to construct a case for fraud, which has always allowed tougher sentencing.

Confirming the Swedish government’s review of copyright laws, a legal adviser at the country’s Department Of Justice, Anna Enbert, is quoted by Torrentfreak as saying: “With the help of well-organised sites, infringement is made fast, easy, and both openly and more or less anonymous. Not infrequently, there is a business motive for the major players, which is roughly comparable to organised crime”.

Defining large-scale online piracy as organised crime could, in itself, increase police powers and potential penalties. A police spokesman in the country, Paul Pintér, speaking to local media IDG, said that such a reclassification would give law enforcement “a whole new toolkit”. While of the copyright review, he added: “In the terms of reference for the inquiry, the government mentions almost all of the points that we have previously proposed”.

While it was in Sweden that the original founders of The Pirate Bay were successfully prosecuted for copyright infringement, with all three eventually serving some jail time, Swedish copyright law hasn’t always helped rights owners and the authorities in their battle with online piracy. For example, attempts to seize The Pirate Bay’s primary .se domain have been unsuccessful.

Rights owners and police, therefore, are pleased about the Swedish government’s current review, and the proposals that may come out of it, though the inquiry isn’t due to report until this time next year, so any new anti-piracy measures aren’t likely to become law for sometime yet.