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Sweden judges back Pirate Hunter Act

But government sailing against the tide

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Resistance to a new anti-file sharing law dubbed by some as the Pirate Hunter Act is mounting in Sweden. More than 22,000 members have joined a group called Stoppa IPRED ('Stop IPRED') on Facebook, which has bombarded Swedish parliament members with protest mails. Youth organisations and all of the centre-right political parties have condemned the law as well.

Last month, Sweden's Council on Legislation (Lagrådet) - composed of Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court Judges - indicated it has no reservations against a law which would make it easier to hunt individuals suspected of illegal filesharing.

Yesterday, several members of the Swedish entertainment industry came out in support of the new measure, including musician Per Gessle, actor Mikael Persbrandt and Sweden-based British film director Colin Nutley. The group says that the music industry in Sweden alone lost around 60 per cent of its revenues because of file sharing.

Under the proposed law, which would be introduced next April, copyright holders can request information such as IP addresses from ISPs if they suspect internet users of illegal file sharing. With a court order they would be able to directly contact copyright infringers and seek monetary damages.

The European Union's Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED), which the law will be based on, doesn't go this far.

Pirate Party vice-chair Christian Engström told online magazine The Local that record companies can send letters out to internet users at random and demand any figure they like. "If you do not pay, they will take you to court."

So far, justice minister Beatrice Ask and enterprise minister Maud Olofsson have refused to discuss the legislation in public. However, according to Svenska Dagbladet, some changes to the law have already been made. One such change is that IP addresses can only be given when the suspected file sharing is 'of commercial nature'.

Two years go, Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt argued that "we should not hunt a whole generation".

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