The Svenska antipiratbyrån, the Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau (a lobby group working against and investigating cases of alleged copyright infringement), has sued an individual for sharing movies online using the DirectConnect file-sharing protocol. The court, which heard the case last week, is expected to deliver a verdict on 25 October.

This case is seen as make or break for the Svenska antipiratbyrån, which has to date been unsuccessful in enforcing copyright against file sharers. In Sweden, file sharing is seen as a real problem; a recent survey found that almost 10% of Swedes used file-sharing networks to download movies, music, and software during the first three months of 2005. By one estimate, over 800,000 Swedes file share.

In the past, Swedish law has made it difficult to prosecute alleged file sharers. Prior to July 1st, it was illegal only to upload copyrighted material without permission. However, now it is illegal to download such material as well. This case, which focuses on a single act of infringement, is seen as an important test case.

While the alleged file sharer was identified by tracing his IP number through his ISP, the defendant’s lawyer is reported to have argued that an IP number alone is not sufficient to positively identify the alleged infringer. In an interesting development in court, the defendent withdrew his confession to police that he downloaded and redistributed the film in question, and denied that he ever possessed the film.