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Swedish man acquitted in file sharing case

No technical evidence

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A 29-year-old Swedish man suspected of sharing local movie Hip Hip Hora was acquitted by the Svea Court of Appeal yesterday.

If found guilty, the man, from Västerås in central Sweden, would have been the country's first person to be convicted for file sharing, but there was simply not enough technical evidence, according to news site The Local.

Although the man first admitted he had made the movie available to others by using file sharing software DC++, he then withdrew his confession and said it had all been a misunderstanding. He thought he was being charged with downloading copyright-protected material, which wasn't illegal in Sweden until 1 July 2005.

The only evidence remaining in the original case was that his ISP, Bredbandsbolaget, confirmed that the IP address belonged to the Västerås man. Although his lawyer devoted several hours in court demonstrating the lack of certainty when an IP address is used as evidence, Västmanland District Court decided to fine the defendant 16,000 kronor ($2,000).

In its judgment the court pointed out that illegal file sharing could have major consequences for the film industry and that "one should therefore take this crime seriously".

The Swedish Court of Appeal yesterday overruled the previous district court decision, saying there was insufficient proof that the movie was uploaded from the man's computer. House searches were not allowed in this particular case, so his computer couldn't be investigated.

Prosecutor Chatrine Rudström has told Swedish news agency TT that "it is difficult to predict the consequences of this ruling". Others believe the ruling will make it extremely difficult for the film industry and other interest groups to pursue the issue in the courts. ®

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