A lawyer who represents Julian Assange and took part in The Pirate Bay trial says a file-sharing case he's currently involved in has the most unreasonable claims for damages he's ever seen. Per E. Samuelson says the case against the founder of torrent site SwePiracy contains a claim for more than $3m in damages, for a single movie.
Founded back in 2006, SwePiracy grew to become one of the most famous private torrent sites on the Swedish scene. With that reputation came attention from anti-piracy groups and local authorities
In the wake of the “guilty” verdict in the Pirate Bay trial during April 2009, SwePiracy disappeared offline. It reappeared just a few weeks later.
Anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån (now Rights Alliance) said that during this downtime, the operators of the site took measures to improve their security. However, three years later those efforts proved futile.
In February 2012, police in Sweden and the Netherlands took coordinated action to shut down the site and earlier this year its 24-year-old operator appeared in court for the first time facing several years in prison.
Despite the prosecution admitting that the site had likely been created for fun, it’s alleged SwePiracy raised $100,000 from donations. As a result, the pursuit of damages against its operator was to be made “according to The Pirate Bay model”, i.e extremely aggressively.
This week the now 25-year-old appeared in court again, facing charges that he assisted in the unlawful distribution of a large number of movies. As is customary in such cases, the prosecution has homed in on a smaller sample of 27 movies in its evidence.
“They earned a lot of money, they spread huge amounts of pirated content and this [man] is one of the key players. Therefore, it is important that those involved are sentenced to severe punishment,” said Henrik Pontén of Rights Alliance, who represent Nordisk Film, one of the plaintiffs in the case.
One of five companies acting against SwePiracy, Nordisk is reportedly being the most aggressive. The film distributor is demanding more than $3m (20m kronor) in damages for a single low-budget movie.
SwePiracy defense lawyer Per E. Samuelsson, who also represents Julian Assange and previously took part in The Pirate Bay trial, says the claims are the most unreasonable he’s ever witnessed in his 35 years as a lawyer.
“I think this is the most unreasonable claim for damages I have been through. The idea that [this type of film] could cause 20-25 million kronor in damages on an illegal file-sharing site is totally absurd from every point of view,” he said.
Swedish news outlet SVT reported an exchange in court between Samuelsson and Pontén, in which the former argued that his client had started the site as a child, for fun.
“My client started [SwePiracy] when he was 14 years old. It was purely a prank,” Samuelsson said.
“That’s not true,” Pontén objected. “He was not fourteen years old when he committed these acts. At some point, he has certainly been fourteen, but when he did this he was criminally responsible and earned lots of money.”
The verdict will be handed down at a later date.