The war on illegal file-sharing has stepped up a notch in Sweden, with 200 people having been reported to the police for breaking copyright laws for exchanging games and films online.
The development marks a change of approach for Sweden's anti-piracy group, Antipiratbyrεn (APB). The organisation has sent out 400,000 warning letters in its controversial battle with file-sharers. But in response, over 1,000 people have reported APB to the Swedish authorities for breaking personal data laws by collecting IP addresses of suspected miscreants.
Now, while it waits for a decision on the matter from the Swedish Data Inspection Board, APB has decided to stop using its own data collection software and report suspects directly to the police.
"We have other methods than storing IP addresses for tracing people who break copyright laws concerning films and games," said APB's lawyer, Henrik Pontιn, who told Computer Sweden that he does not believe an IP address could be classed as personal data.
"We are not taking a legal risk if we continue to send out warning letters. But we want to show that we respect the legislation."
Currently it is not illegal to download copyrighted films and music in Sweden - only to distribute them. But the Swedish parliament passed a law banning all participation in file-sharing last month, which means that from July 1st file-sharers will be ordered to pay damages or face up to two years in prison.
Meanwhile, the Swedish file-sharing site The Pirate Bay has made clear its position on the debate by relaunching with faster technology and in ten other languages.
"In contrast to the big media companies we see it as our duty to spread new technology to as many people as possible," said The Pirate Bay's Fredrik Neij.