Man Fined $658,000 For Sharing One Movie Online

Dennis Faas's picture

A Swedish man has been fined more than $600,000 for sharing a single movie online. However, the case is somewhat more complicated than it appears.

The man, whose name is being kept secret by Sweden's Vastmanlands District Court, recently faced both criminal and civil charges. He was convicted of criminal copyright offenses for sharing a total of 517 movies on a site called 'Swebit'.

Swebit is a file-sharing site. However, unlike many high-profile rivals -- such as The Pirate Bay -- Swebit requires users to register as members before they can share files.

The court sentenced the man to 160 hours of community service, meaning he will do unpaid work to benefit the local area rather than serve any prison time.

The sentence was much lower than the lengthy sentences handed out in some cases because the court concluded he had not made any personal financial gain from sharing the movies.

Civil Penalty Far More Severe

In a separate judgment in the same case, the man was ordered to pay a civil penalty of 4.3 million kronor, which is about $658,000 USD,  to movie studio Nordisk Film. The massive penalty is for sharing a single film called "Beck, Levande begravd."

The studio decided to focus on a single movie so that they could concentrate their resources on proving damages in one particular case.

Nordisk Film actually asked for 5.5 million kronor compensation, which they said was the amount the man would have had to pay for a license to legally distribute the movie online. (Source:

The court decided to impose a penalty half that amount. However, it then added on an additional penalty to cover lost profits.

Pirate Punished For Poor Video Quality

Amazingly, this penalty wasn't based on the idea that people were pirating the movie rather than seeing it in movie theaters or buying on DVD.

Instead, the court agreed that the video quality on the copy the man shared was terrible and that people seeing it might think the real thing was just as shoddy. (Source:

The man has three weeks to file an appeal against the verdict; his lawyer has not yet made any comment on whether he'll do so. It's unclear whether the man has the financial resources to actually pay the full amount or if he may be forced into bankruptcy.

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