Swedish File-Sharer Pays Fine: Pirates Rejoice

Sweden has convicted its first 'pirate' since the country made the downloading of music and movie files illegal in 2005.  45-year-old Jimmy Sjostrom was charged last October with infringing upon intellectual property rights when he allowed four music files to be shared from his computer. The penalty, a fine of a whopping 20,000 Swedish crowns ($2,843), is being seen by the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) as a victory in their war against file-sharing.

The verdict only concerns four songs and it costs the one sentenced about 20,000 crowns in fines -- that is 5,000 crowns per song," IFPI said in a statement. "Illegal file-sharing is thus expensive when there are legal and cheap alternatives available over the Internet today." The legal action is part of a carrot-and-stick approach by the industry, which is pushing cases against illegal file-sharers while promoting legal music services such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes. Sweden made downloading movie and music files from the Internet illegal only in 2005 after having been singled out for criticism by Hollywood.

While the IFPI is rejoicing, so are pirates. The Pirate Party, a Swedish political group geared towards re-legalizing the sharing of music and move files believes that the fine-only punishment has set an important precident. The party claims that finding file-sharers will be more difficult for Swedish police because now internet records may only be accessed in cases where the crime carries a jail sentence. In the end casual downloader’s may be deterred from file-sharing, but hard-core pirates haven't even blinked an eye.