As expected, earlier this week a the Vastmanland district court in Sweden handed down the nation’s first decision on Internet file sharing.

The court convicted Andreas Bawer for violating Swedish copyright laws by making a single movie available on a file-sharing network. Bawer was fined 16,000 kronor (US$2,000). Not surprisingly, the media industry, led by the Swedish antipiratbyran (an anti-piracy lobbying group representing the Swedish entertainment industry), welcomed the decision. Brawer’s lawyer objected to the verdict, noting that that fine was too high for a single act of infringement.

According to a Swedish legal academic, Swedish police can request ISPs to disclose the identity of the owner of an IP address only if the owner is suspected of having commited a crime that merits a prison sentence. According to Bawer’s lawyer, the court’s decision may mean that courts are willing to give prison sentences for multiple instances of illegal file sharing; the academic estimated that sharing 5-10 such files might result in prison time.

Although Bawer’s lawyer had argued that an IP number alone is not sufficient to positively identify the alleged infringer, it appears that the court rejected this argument. Similarly, the court seems to have ignored Bawer’s claim in court that he had never seen the film in question (“Hip Hip Hora”, translated as “The Ketchup Effect”).