Sweden considers to grant copyright lobbies access to IP information

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 0:52 | Posted in copyright, internet, Legal, Sweden | Leave a comment

According to Dagens Nyheter, the Swedish Ministry of Justice on Monday released a legislative proposal which would allow copyright holders to seek information on IP addresses they suspect having violated their copyrights. The information would be granted by a court of law in a civil procedure, i.e. without involvement of the police or other law enforcing officials. The paper quotes Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask as saying that the police have more urgent things to do and she would prefer that the copyright holders defended their interests independently.

Many Swedish blogs are less than enthusiastic. Beta Alfa points out that the proposal would in practical terms grant law enforcing powers to copyright lobbyists. The blog goes on to say that private persons would have little or no chance to defend themselves in court against corporative copyright holders.

Saftblandaren notes that evaluation of evidence in copyright cases has not been quite objective during the present legislation that requires the police to be involved. The blog is concerned that many innocent people could fasten in the invisible surveillance webs if interested parties are granted the right to say what sort of Internet behavior is suspectable and the courts do not necessarily have sufficient technical qualifications to objectively evaluate the evidence presented to them.

I wrote last year about an inquiry by the Swedish chief justice ombudsman which concluded that courts had widely spread practices of granting old fashioned telephone surveillance warrants without the suspects being specified by the police. The new proposal raises concerns that courts may not have the competence of evaluating the probable cause of releasing IP information if they are unable to even fulfill the technically much more specific statutes in the existing legislation. This proposal risks to grant copyright lobbying organizations access to personal information irrelevant to defending their interests.

The Swedish Ministry of Justice is going to collect public statements on the proposal from interested parties. The proposed legislation is intended to take effect on 1st July 2008.

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