In recent years, millions of file-sharers around the world have been ordered to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions.
These so-called “copyright trolling” efforts have been a common occurrence in several countries, with Sweden one of the latest hunting grounds.
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Over the past months, tens of thousands of Swedes have been targeted in this manner.
The copyright holders go to court, armed with a list of IP-addresses, and when permission is granted they ask the associated ISPs for the account details of individual subscribers.
These suspected pirates then get a settlement demand in their mailbox, urging them to pay the equivalent of a few hundred dollars, or have their day in court.
As in many other countries, these practices are not without controversy. Several experts have spoken out against them, and ISPs have raised objections too. However, according to Swedish law, the rightsholders have the right to pursue these cases.
Despite its name, the Swedish Pirate Party has been relatively silent on the issue. However, that changed this week, as the party now calls on Justice Minister Morgan Johansson to take action.
The Pirate Party describes the copyright trolling efforts as extortion. It stresses that the evidence copyright holders rely on is far from solid, something they believe the courts should take into account.
“It is a scandal that the Swedish judicial system facilitates the mafia-like methods of copyright trolls,” says Pirate Party leader Magnus Andersson.
“To condone the sending of extortion letters without reasonable ground for suspicion of criminal activity is not acceptable. We demand the Justice Minister to do something about the situation with these copyright trolls!”
The Pirate Party sees plenty of opportunities to intervene. The Government could, for example, change how the IPRED directive is interpreted and demand higher scrutiny of the provided evidence.
Another option would be to work at the EU level to repeal the IPRED-directive in its entirety.
Besides calling on the Justice Minister to take action, the Pirate Party is also backing the anti-copyright troll initiative of Internet provider Bahnhof. Through this campaign, members of the public can voice their concerns to the Swedish Government.
Through these and other efforts, the Pirate Party hopes that something will be done to protect the public from the ‘trolling’ practices.
“We cannot accept a situation where private companies use the judicial system as a weapon of fear to extort innocent people,” Andersson tells TorrentFreak.
“This creates contempt for the judiciary and supports the view that the courts only exist to serve the state’s and the big companies’ interests,” he adds.
Thus far the copyright holders have shown no sign of backing down. They refute the “trolling” characterizations and counter that they are merely enforcing their rights. And with the courts on their side, they have little to worry about for now.