[pp.int.general] Denmark announces new penalties for file sharing

Ole Husgaard osh at procard.dk
Tue Mar 25 23:01:17 CET 2008


Sorry for my late reply on this. Took some time until I could find time 
to read the report.

This report is what you get when you let a group of people who work with 
enforcement of IP work behind closed doors. It is completely unbalanced, 
and only gives arguments for harsher punishments while it ignores 
(doesn't even mention) all arguments against a harsher enforcement.

The main objective of the report is to treat all violations of 
copyright, patents, design- and utility-patents and trademarks as pirate 
copying. Then the report looks at some other countries, and recommends 
that punishments for violation of these laws are "harmonized" to the 
highest punishment in any of the laws.

Some years ago we had a case with for-profit pirate copying of software. 
Some guys put together a DVD with a lot of very expensive software, and 
had a few thousand copies produced in a plant in Germany. The copyright 
holders summed up the full price for each piece of software on the DVD, 
multiplied the sum by the number of DVDs, and then multiplied by two 
(because in Denmark a pirate has to pay double the new price to the 
copyright holder, if caught). This ended up being billions of kroner, 
and the amount made headlines in our mainstream media. Because of the 
extremely high amount (reported as a loss to the copyright holders), our 
politicians felt they had to do something. So they added a new article 
299b to our penal code. Article 299b makes it possible to give up to 6 
years of prison for the worst cases of copyright infringement. Our 
politicians thought article 299b was justified because of the very high 
reported loss, but unfortunately the article was stated so it isn't 
limited to commercial copyright infringement. It can also be used for 
personal non-profit filesharing, and it probably will at some time. I 
have warned about this for some time, but almost nobody believed me. Now 
this new report talks about article 299b as if there is no doubt it 
applies to non-commercial filesharing.

The report suggests that article 299b is changed so it also applies to 
infringement of patents, design- and utility-patents and trademarks, 
thus making it possible to punish infringement of these laws with up to 
6 years of prison. One of the arguments for this high punishment is that 
this makes it easier for the police to investigate these cases of 
infringement, as the high punishment makes it possible for the police to 
snoop on private communication.

But this is only for the worst cases of infringement. For more normal 
cases of infringement our copyright law makes it possible to give 1.5 
years of prison. The report suggests that the punishment for 
infringement of patents, design- and utility-patents and trademarks in 
these normal cases is raised to also be up to 1.5 years of prison.

The report also suggests a "harmonization" in who can start a legal 
case. For infringement of infringement of patents, design- and 
utility-patents and trademarks, our police cannot start a case unless 
they are asked by the rights holder. But for copyright infringement the 
police can start a case by themselves if needed ("hvis der er almene 
hensyn til stede"). I fear this can lead to cases (similar to in the 
proposed IPRED2 directive) where prosecution starts even if there is no 
victim (ie. a rights holder cannot be located).

Unfortunately the relevant minister for this is Bendt Bendtsen. The very 
same Bendt Bendtsen who voted in favour of the software patent directive 
in the council, although he had a direct order from our parliament to 
vote "no". He is an ignorant that knows absolutely nothing about this, 
and only listens to lobbyists and his own spin doctors. He has already 
announced that he will propose changes to the relevant laws to implement 
all the recommendations in the report.

I only see one small opportunity here: Our local FOSS movement has 
substantial political influence, and they are aware about the problem 
with software patents. When I tell them that they can risk up to 6 years 
of prison for publicly distributing their software, I might get them to 
propose that article 299b in our penal code is changed so it is limited 
to commercial infringement.

Best Regards,

Ole Husgaard.

Rick Falkvinge (Piratpartiet) wrote:
> hold your horses a bit before going ballistic on this one, I'm trying 
> to figure out exactly what is new here. Apparently, Denmark /already/ 
> has a six-year prison term for copyright infringement, but seeks to 
> expand it to patent infringements (?!?).
> Ole, perhaps you can help out?
>     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     *From:* pp.international.general-bounces at lists.pirateweb.net
>     [mailto:pp.international.general-bounces at lists.pirateweb.net] *On
>     Behalf Of *Rick Falkvinge (Piratpartiet)
>     *Sent:* Wednesday, March 12, 2008 12:11
>     *To:* 'Pirate Parties International -- General Talk'
>     *Subject:* [pp.int.general] Denmark announces new penalties for
>     file sharing
>     http://www.oem.dk/sw21117.asp
>     ** 
>     In short: the penalty for copyright infringement is raised to 1-6
>     years in prison. That means a minimum prison term of one year for
>     copyright infringement.
>     This is the same penalty as armed robbery, and considerably higher
>     than assault or rape. (I have compared to the Swedish penalties,
>     so it's not entirely red-apples-to-red-apples, but they are always
>     strikingly similar, so green-apples-to-red-apples.)
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ____________________________________________________
> Pirate Parties International - General Talk
> pp.international.general at lists.pirateweb.net
> http://lists.pirateweb.net/mailman/listinfo/pp.international.general

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