Mention Sweden and chances are that for many you'll conjure up images of Ikea furniture, Volvos and meatballs. Recent developments however have seen Sweden become home to The Pirate Bay and a hotbed of cyber activism as the Swedish Pirate Party continues to gain traction. Ratcheting things up a notch, it now appears that the Swedes have found an ingenious way to download movies, TV shows and music with little to no fear of big fines.
The youth arm of the Swedish Pirate Party has launched a service branded K-Kassan, which is a form of prosecution insurance. Signing up sees subscribers paying 249 Swedish krona (NZ$47) per year to get an insurance cover for any fines they may incur should they be caught sharing that latest episode of Swedish Desert Island Master Chef Survivor or Justin Bieber's latest track.
K-Kassan makes considerable sense in Sweden because, like New Zealand, the maximum penalties for copyright infringement don't include prison time.
However, unlike New Zealand where fines can be up to a whopping NZ$15,000, Swedes are only fined up to a maximum of 10,000 krona (NZ$1,848.42). Sensibly K-Kassan also does not provide cover for people sharing files for commercial gain, which in turn limits its exposure to big fines for large scale copyright infringement.
K-Kassan makes no bones about what it does, with its site saying that the laws governing your use of the internet are constantly changing. It's hard to always be up to date on what has changed. There are a plethora of different licenses for images, text and music that regulates what you can do with the material. Often it is not clear what rules apply. Often the rules are pretty stupid.
K-Kassan has already begun to attract large numbers of subscribers which raises the question of how long it will be before authorities unleash their legal rottweilers in a bid to get K-Kassan shut down.