Alleged BitTorrent pirates continue to receive settlement demands from rightsholders in Sweden. Internet provider Bahnhof reveals that, in less than three years, more than 100,000 IP-addresses were targeted through the Patent and Market Court by so-called copyright trolls.
In the early 2000s, Sweden was considered to be a relatively safe haven for pirates. The country was the home of the Pirate Bay, the birthing ground of the Pirate Party, and a place where for many citizens file-sharing was second nature. Today, this safe haven has long disappeared. The Scandinavian country has prosecuted several torrent site operators, including The Pirate Bay’s founders, while lawsuits targeting individual BitTorrent users are a common sight. In many ways, Sweden has become a copyright enforcement hotspot. This includes the ‘copyright-trolling’ phenomenon, in which movie companies target hundreds or thousands of alleged pirates hoping to secure monetary settlements. The first wave of these lawsuits started three years ago but the practice has grown exponentially since. According to Swedish Internet provider Bahnhof, which has kept track of these cases since early 2017, the number of new cases has already broken a record this year.
“The success factor of the letters is partly that they can easily be mistaken for genuine invoices or fines, and the threat of a legal process that drives people to pay out of pure fear, even when they are innocent. The business model is thus based on regular extortion,” Bahnhof notes.