Swedish Court Upholds File-Sharing Conviction

By Niklas Pollard

A Swedish court of appeals on Tuesday upheld the country's first conviction for sharing music files over the Internet without paying in what the recording industry hailed as a victory.

The Appellate Court backed a verdict by a lower court in October last year that saw 45-year-old Jimmy Sjostrom fined 20,000 Swedish crowns ($2,843) for infringing intellectual property rights by sharing four music files.

The International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) hailed the conviction as a boost for intellectual property protection and said it could act as a deterrent.

"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.

But the Pirate Party, a political group that wants Sweden to re-legalize file-sharing, also claimed the verdict as a success -- saying it meant Swedish police would have a hard time finding file-sharers since they could only access Internet records for a crime that carries a jail sentence.

"The verdict confirms that the penalty for file-sharing in Sweden today is a fine," it said in a statement.

"For trifling crimes such as file-sharing, they are instead obligated to uphold their customer's right to anonymity."

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.

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