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Sweden's parliament passes law against file sharing

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Last Wednesday, May 25, the Swedish parliament passed a law banning the free exchange of material protected by copyright over the Internet. The law also gives holders of copyrights a legal basis to file for damages against supporters of illicit free copies via the Internet. The Swedish government passed this law, which will take effect on July 1, in order to limit the rampant uploading and downloading of music, movies, and computer games. Not only electronic entertainment is affected; photocopies of entire books are also banned – a common practice at Swedish colleges in light of the prices for the literature that students need and often find too expensive.

In addition, to further support holders of copyrights and related industries, the Swedish parliament also accepted a proposal to increase the price of blank CDs, DVDs, and cassettes for audio and video recordings considerably in order to compensate for legal private copies. The retail price of a 5GB blank DVD will now probably rise from the current 10 krones to 30, which is approximately 3.50 euros.

In a debate in parliament that preceded the vote on this new law, members underscored the right of creators of music, movies, books, and other copyrighted works to receive fair payment for their creations. "Every worker deserves fair compensation," as left-of-center MP Tasso Stafilidis put it.

Only recently, the Swedish government had expressed its agreement with industry representatives, who stated that the illicit use of copyrighted material had gotten out of hand in Sweden. As elsewhere, the entertainment industry is also posting plummeting sales figures in Sweden and believes that one of the reasons is pirating – both by professional criminals and common consumers.

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