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Looney tunes

22 February 2011

An individual against whom legal action was taken for downloading 44 tracks was recently fined a mere €200 by the Swedish courts.

This contrasts with recent US cases where individuals have been held liable to pay thousands (even millions) of dollars for downloading a similar number of tracks.

It should be noted that the US decisions relate to civil actions, not criminal prosecutions, which the Swedish decision appears to be. Therefore, in the US the primary aim was damages, and moreover, precedent.

However, the Swedish case does highlight the different approaches to damages between the US and Europe. In the EU, courts are subject to the IP Enforcement Directive, which requires any damages award to be “appropriate to the actual prejudice suffered by him/her as a result of the infringement”.

The non-commercial illegal downloading of 44 songs would probably not result in anything vastly more substantial than €200 award. Whether this really creates a deterrent is another question, though perhaps a solicitor’s letter and the prospect of legal costs are deterrent enough!

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