CBS News: Record Companies Win Battle Against Piracy in Swedish Court

By Kayvon Afshari CBS News World Watch

Piracy was dealt a blow on Friday in an unusual place. No, not off the coast of Somalia but in a Stockholm courtroom, as four Swedes who run were found guilty of infringing copyright law by assisting in making movies, music, and television shows available for free download. Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, and Carl Lundström were sentenced to one year in prison each and ordered to pay damages of $3.6 million to several entertainment companies in both a criminal and civil case.


The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which led the civil case against the four defendants, rejoiced the verdict and said it set the right precedent.

“The court has also handed down a strong deterrent sentence that reflects the seriousness of the crimes committed,” said IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy. “This is good news for everyone, in Sweden and internationally, who is making a living or a business from creative activity and who needs to know their rights will protected by law.”

However, the dispute may not be settled yet, as it is likely to undergo an appeals process.

“I don’t think that [jail time] is going to happen. I’m still quite confident that the higher up you go in the Swedish court system, the more fair judgment you will get. … No one can say that this was a fair judgment,” Peter Sunde said in a press conference that was broadcast live over the Web site

The defense argued that The Pirate Bay acts like Google and other search engines, but does not host any copyrighted material on its servers. They also brought a lively atmosphere, with a rented party bus outside the courtroom and many supporters demonstrating in the streets.

Sweden appears to have emerged as a battleground in the debate surrounding online piracy. Boasting one of the highest connectivity rates, the Scandinavian country has even seen the recent rise of Pirate Party, a one-issue political party dedicated to reforming Sweden’s copyright laws.

Pirate Party’s vice-chairman, Christian Engstrom, said file-sharing is a great benefit to emerging artists and even offers some benefits to large record companies.

“In the music industry, what’s happening is that CD sales have dropped. But now people have more money in their pocket to go to concerts which is good for artists because they make more money that way,” Engstrom said.


Kayvon Afshari

Kayvon Afshari managed the campaign to elect Hooshang Amirahmadi as President of Iran. In this role, he directed the campaign’s event planning, publicity, online social media, web analytics, and delivered speeches. Mr. Afshari has also been working at the CBS News foreign desk for over five years. He has coordinated coverage of Iran’s 2009 post-election demonstrations, the Arab Spring, the earthquake in Haiti, and many other stories of international significance. He holds a Master in International Relations from New York University’s Department of Politics, and graduated with distinction from McGill University in 2007 with a double major in political science and Middle Eastern studies. At NYU, his research focused on quantitative analysis and the Middle East with an emphasis on US-Iran relations. In his 2012 Master’s thesis, he devised a formula to predict whether Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, concluding that an overt strike would not materialize.