As the Pirate Bay site’s recent court case showed, Sweden has traditionally been known as lax on the issue of copyright infringement. That’s changed with a new law which took effect this week and have already had a noticeable effect.
Since Wednesday, internet service providers in Sweden have been legally required to hand over IP addresses of customers if a copyright holder alleges a violation. The law has already been seen in practice, with two men taken into custody over sharing movie files, while in a separate case five firms which publish audio books have asked for details of users sharing the audio files without permission.
Internet monitoring firm Netnod says that in the two days following the law’s introduction, internet traffic in Stockholm is down around 40 percent. This graph shows that’s a very distinct pattern and not something which can easily be explained as a normal variation.
Henrik Ponten, a lawyer for the Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau, says, “The majority of all internet traffic is file sharing, which is why nothing other than the new IPRED law can explain this major drop in traffic.”
However, Netnod itself says it isn’t able to draw such firm conclusions. Other sources say there was a similar drop at the same time last year, while there are even suggestions that good weather on the days concerned may explain this year’s drop.
The law certainly seems to be having one effect, albeit not one that helps its aims: demand for anonymizing proxy services, which mask the IP address of users, is reportedly heavily increased this week with some providers struggling to cope.
The Pirate Bay case, which must determined whether hosting torrent files violates the copyright of the data files those torrents deal with, has concluded but a verdict is not due until April 17.