05 April 2009

Swedish Internet Traffic Plunges with New Piracy Law

03 04 2009 - With the enactment of a Swedish law like the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Internet traffic in Sweden dropped more than 40 percent. Sweden is home to The Pirate Bay and Sweden said the drop indicates a fear of being caught. But an official of the Swedish Pirate Party said the drop is temporary while P2P users figure out new tactics.

A law enacted in Sweden similar to the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act has nearly halved Internet traffic in Sweden.

Just two days after the European Union's Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive was put into effect as a law in Sweden, Internet traffic sank more than 40 percent, according to the Netnod Internet Exchange, which measures Internet traffic.

The new law requires Internet service providers to disclose the Internet Protocol (IP) address of users committing copyright infringement to the holders of the copyright. The copyright holder can get a court order forcing ISPs to provide the necessary information.

Henrik Pontén of the Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau said he welcomed the decrease in Internet traffic, saying it's a sign that file sharers are pulling back on swapping for fear of getting caught. "There's no other explanation for it," he told the Associated Press.

In the United States, some copyright holders, including the Recording Industry of America Association, are asking ISPs to send copyright offenders a letter warning about copyright infringement.

Directive Criticized

Peer-to-peer file sharing has become an issue in Sweden with Statistics Sweden reporting that eight percent of the population uses P2P. Companies such as Sweden's The Pirate Bay make the battle between copyright holders and online pirates tougher.

The Institute for Policy Innovation said global music piracy causes yearly losses of $12.5 billion in revenue, 71,060 U.S. jobs, $2.7 billion in worker earnings, and $422 million in tax payments.

Some ISPs are criticizing the new law and say it puts Sweden's position as a leader in online technologies at risk.

"Half the Internet is gone. If this pattern keeps up, it means the extensive broadband network we've built will lose its significance," Jon Karlung, chief executive of Banhof, a Swedish ISP, told the Associated Press.

ISPs in the United States are also trying to find a balance between keeping customers happy while following the rules under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Charlie Douglas, a spokesperson for Comcast, said the cable and Internet provider receives requests from copyright holders to notify alleged infringers. "We then pass it along to our customer, either in an e-mail or letter," Douglas said. "Every ISP is required to this per DMCA and there may be differences in terms of how it is done."

A Temporary Drop

Christian Engstrom, vice chairman of the Swedish Pirate Party, said in an interview with the BBC that the drop in traffic was a direct result of the new law, but that it would only be temporary.

"Today, there is a very drastic reduction in Internet traffic. But experience from other countries suggests that while file sharing drops on the day a law is passed, it starts climbing again," Engstrom told the BBC. "One of the reasons is that it takes people a few weeks to figure out how to change their security Relevant Products/Services settings so that they can share files anonymously."

Source: Top Tech News

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