Record-breaking Swedish file-sharer escapes jail

An illegal file-sharer who distributed a record-breaking 45,000 songs online over a peer-to-peer (P2P) network has been found guilty by a court in Sweden, in a judgment dubbed "tragic" by Swedish Pirate Party leader Anna Troberg.

The trial concerns the largest number of copyright infringements ever considered by a Swedish court, but 58-year-old woman managed to avoid jail. Instead, the court yesterday fined her 16,000 kronor (around £1,600) - equivalent to 50 days' pay - plus the costs of her defence, and sentenced her to probation.

The case dates back to 2007, although it took a full year for investigators from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) to visit the convicted woman's house. In a search carried out at the premises, a Direct Connect client was found installed on a computer, as well as logs that formed the basis of the IFPI's case.

The defence argued that the woman was not technically savvy enough to understand that the tracks were being uploaded as well as downloaded over the P2P network - an argument not accepted by the court, which heard that the woman worked as a systems administrator.

Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad said that the defendant was guilty of sharing the tracks either deliberately or through criminal negligence.

Even though the record-breaking nature of the case meant many expected a custodial sentence to be handed down, critics are still angry at the seemingly lenient verdict.

"I attended the trial. You could really see the entitlement in the prosecutor's eyes; this was just an open-and-shut case," Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge told file-sharing news site TorrentFreak on Tuesday.

"I find it staggering," said Falkvinge, " that the establishment can... judge honest people who share culture - as if that was something bad - without a second thought. We need to change these laws. The establishment is not going to do it for us."