While yesterday we wrote about how a Swedish court acquitted a 15-year-old for file sharing some movies, today a court gave a 60-year-old man two years of conditional jail time along with a pretty large fine. The “conditional” jailtime appears to be like a form of probation, where if he meets certain criteria, he might never spend time in actual jail, but it’s still quite a sentence.
As Rick Falkvinge notes in the link above, even if this guy never sets foot in jail, the Swedish court has now established a ridiculous precedent for what file sharing can get you in terms of jailtime. Copyright issues like this should, at most, be a civil issue, rather than a criminal one, and it seems like a very dangerous move by Swedish law enforcement to start trying to sentence people to jail over something done so widely. When the punishment does not match at all with the real “harm” of the crime, people respect the law even less. I’m sure the supporters of such a move think that this will help with “education.” There’s almost no evidence to support that. Ridiculously punitive punishment does not do anything to stop infringement.
Instead, it seems likely that a ridiculous ruling like this merely helps undermine the respect that citizens give to copyright law.
Earlier today we compared a discussion on whether or not the punishment fit the crime for copyright infringement in France. Falkvinge provides a similar set of info for Sweden. This guy was sentenced to two years and a big fine. What other verdicts have come out recently in Sweden?
- Severe negligent homicide, six months.
- Rape, one year and four months.
- Sexual abuse of a child, ten months.
- Armed robbery with a firearm, one year and nine months.
- Homicide by strangling, six months.
- Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, ten months.
When you make the punishment way out of line with the crime, you’re not doing yourselves any favors. You just make people respect the law even less…