A teenage boy has become what is thought to be the youngest person in Sweden to be convicted of copyright violation, after his school handed him over to police for illegally downloading films when he was just 15.
The boy, who is now 16, was acquitted by Gothenburg District Court in August, but has now been found guilty by Western Sweden’s Court of Appeal.
The school’s principle reported the boy to the police after the IT department noticed that the teenager had downloaded at least 24 films from the internet and shared them with others online. He admitted to the charges, but claimed he was unaware his actions were illegal.
The appeals court, however, ruled that he must have been aware that it was “possible that his downloading covered copyright protected material that he couldn’t legally download”.
“When he, despite this, downloaded the films without finding out the particulars, he behaved with serious recklessness,” the court wrote in its ruling, according to the Göteborgs-Posten. “In this respect, he is guilty of committing a crime against the copyright law.”
The teenager has been ordered to pay a SEK 1,500 (EUR 167) fine, a relatively lenient sentence, as the downloads were deemed to be limited. The verdict has, however, been condemned by the Pirate Party, a political organisation which is pushing for copyright law reforms.
“The appeals court’s ruling means that hundreds of thousands of young Swedes are at risk of being dragged into court,” party leader Anna Troberg said in a statement. “This is not right. Today’s copyright laws are wrong in that they criminalise an entire generation of young people and throw a spanner in the works for new creators of culture that see technology’s possibilities.”