Fileshares get different treatment in Europe's courts

By EDRi · November 8, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

A few interesting decisions regarding the copyright infringement by
fileshares have been taken in the last weeks by courts from different states
in Europe. Usage of p2p programms has been considered totally different in
decisions in Finland, Sweden and Spain.

At the end of October 2006, a judge from Turku, Finland convicted 22 people
for copyright infringement deciding on a fine of more than 420 000 euros in
damages, in favour of several plaintiffs including music, game and film
producers. The plaintiffs had claimed 3.5 millions euro as damages.

The group of sentenced people had a peer-to-peer file sharing network with
about 10 000 users, called Finreactor, and the judge ruled that the network
had been created with the precise purpose to share copyrighted works such
as games, software or movies thus violating the copyright law.

Although the defendants argued that the content was transferred directly
between the users with no storage on the network, claiming that, in this
case, they had no responsibility in the law infringement, the court
considered the service as a whole, thus involving directly its operators in
the violation action.

The Finnish court did not consider the offenders deserved a more severe
conviction and applied an earlier copyright legislation that required profit
scope for a criminal conviction on copyright violation.

Finland is not the only country to deal with file sharing more severely.
Sweden courts also fined two men who had downloaded movies and music for
personal use and more than 100 students at Växjö University of Sweden were
banned during the past two years from using the university network for
having downloaded copyrighted works.

A totally opposite decision was taken in Spain on 26 October 2006 when a
judge of the of Penal Court No.3 of Santander acquitted a 48-year-old man
who had shared digital music on the net, ruling that under the Spanish law a
person who downloads music for personal use, without the intention of
gaining money out of it, cannot be convicted.

The sentence was surprising for the state prosecutor’s office and the two
music distribution associations, the Asociación Fonográfica y Videográfica
Española (Afyve) and the Asociación Española de distribuidores y editores de
software de entretenimiento (Adese) who had asked for a two-year sentence
for the defendant, a 7.200 euro fine and 18.361 euro damages for Afyve.

The plaintiffs have not succeeded in proving the defendant had made money
from selling the CDs with the downloaded music and the judge argued that a
sentence “would imply the criminalization of socially accepted and widely
practiced behaviour in which the aim is in no way to make money illicitly,
but rather to obtain copies for private use.”

The Spanish recording industry federation Promusicae stated it would appeal
against the decision. Justice Minister Juan Fernando Lopéz Aguilar also said
that artists’ rights must be protected as much as possible and that Spain is
drafting a new law to eliminate the present right to private copies.

A judge from Santanter decided downloading music from the Internet without
working purpose is no crime (only in Spanish, 1.11.2006)

File sharing website brings heavy damages in copyright case (27.10.2006)

Finland convicts 22 in file sharing case (30.10.2006)

Students get network ban over file sharing(30.10.2006)

Two Swedes fined for file sharing (18.10.2006)

Spain Court Dismisses Music Download Case (2.11.2006)