Sweden: First judgment in new Serious Copyright Infringement category puts two in prison

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On October 6, two individuals running a large-scale illegal IPTV network became the first to receive judgements under a new criminal classification for Serious Copyright Infringement in Sweden. They were sentenced to two years imprisonment, and must also pay damages totaling SEK195 million (equivalent to about US$17.7 million) to the three rights-holders: Warners Bros. Discovery, C More and Viaplay.

According to a news release by the Swedish Public Prosecutor’s Office, the two individuals had been running a large-scale illegal IPTV network beginning in 2017. The underlying business had been conducted systematically and professionally, had about 12,000 customers and led to great financial gain.

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How the case played out

Nordic Content Protection, an investigative agency made up of law enforcement veterans and specializing in anti-piracy, received an anonymous tip about the operation in 2019.  An illicit streaming device was acquired, which provided sufficient evidence of criminal activity.

In 2021, raids were conducted in two cities.  Not only did authorities find the computer equipment and software that ran the operation, but also, they discovered a respository of cryptocurrency, a whisky collection with an estimated worth approaching $100,000, and 47 solid gold ingots.

Serious Copyright Infringement

The classification of Serious Copyright Infringement was introduced by the Swedish government in response to large-scale and industrially operated infringement activity.

Essentially, it’s about size, organization, systematization, and value – simply organized on a larger scale,” said one source who was close to this case. “Investigation of serious crimes also grants the police the opportunity for covert surveillance of electronic communication and extended forfeiture.”

The penalty scale for Serious Copyright Infringement ranges from imprisonment for six months to six years.  For copyright infringements that are not considered serious, the penalty range is lower: from fines to imprisonment for a maximum of two years.  Also, the statute of limitations for Serious Copyright Infringement is ten years, compared to five years for crimes of average severity, said the source.

The case number in the Patents and Markets court at the Stockholm District Court is PMB 15213-21

Further reading

First judgment on serious copyright infringement. Press release. October 12, 2023. Public Prosecutor’s Office (Aklagarmyndigheten), Sweden (Auto-translated from the original Swedish to English by Google Translate)

Millionaire sentence and prison for those responsible. Article. October 10, 2023. by Jack Jones. Gearrice

Why it matters

“It is of great importance that we now for the first time have a judgment where it is clear what must be used as a basis for a copyright infringement to be considered serious. In the current case, the court has taken into account the large number of customers who were in the network,” says Anna Ginner, senior prosecutor for Sweden’s National Unit for International and Organized Crime.

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