Online privacy has taken a blow in Sweden where the countries Patent and Market Court has ruled that one of the country’s leading ISPs has to hand over the personal information of thousands of people to a known copyright troll.
The ISP in question is Telia and the court has ordered them to provide the personal information related to 5,300 IP addresses to a company known as Guardaley which are thought to have been used for file sharing. The initiative appears to be led by a Danish law firm called Njord.
Guardaley’s copyright claims
They claim that the IP Addresses in question have been used to download various movies including CELL, IT, London Has Fallen, Mechanic: Resurrection, Criminal and September of Shiraz. These are all movies which Guardaley has previously pursued through similar trolling cases in the USA.
The Patent and Market Court, which was only created last year specifically to deal with copyright complaints has reached the conclusion that Guardaley is entitled to the information, despite strong legal objections being put forward by Telia.
In their judgement [in Swedish], the court concluded that “There is probable cause of infringement of copyright in the films in that they were made unlawfully made available to the public via file sharing networks.”
Copyright “outweighs” privacy
They went on to say that Guardaley right to that information “outweighs” the rights of the individuals to privacy.
For their part, Telia were hugely apologetic to their users but explained that they had no choice but to comply with the court order. A spokesperson told SVT [in Swedish] “We believe that our customers’ privacy is incredibly important, but now we must comply with this court decision.”
It is not clear yet how many of Telia’s subscribers will be affected by this ruling. It is not known if the IP Addresses in question are linked to a single subscriber or even if Telia will be able to match the IP Address to subscribers.
But it has been estimated that around 20,000 people could find themselves receiving a financial demand from Guardaley in the near future.
And subscribers to other Swedish ISPs shouldn’t rest easy either. Tele2 and Bredbandsbolaget are just two other ISPs subject to similar cases and it seems likely that the Patent and Market Court will hand down a similar ruling to them.
Copyright trolling a global issue
Copyright trolling is a growing problem around the globe and Guardaley are just one such business who make money through legal actions of this kind.
In a recent high-profile US case, an attorney at Prenda Law pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges after securing almost $6 million from US internet users by threatening them with copyright lawsuits.
And in 2015, a US-based company called Voltage Pictures won a court ruling that required details of more than 4,700 people suspected of downloading or sharing the film Dallas Buyers Club to be handed over. This ruling was overturned on appeal after objections from the ISPs.
It remains to be seen if Telia or the other Swedish ISPs will appeal these rulings, and if those appeals should be successful or not. But it is clear that copyright trolls are a growing threat to internet users privacy.
Whilst downloading copyrighted material is, of course, a crime and not condoned by this site, online privacy should be an inalienable right and not one that a troll can undermine in order to make an easy buck.
Which is why users in Sweden, and elsewhere should be making use of a VPN such as IPVanish or ExpressVPN which will encrypt all of your online traffic and ensure that everything you do online is both private and secure.