Swedish Court about forfeiture of domain names

5 Mar 2018

In 2010, the well-known copyright infringement case against the founders of the Pirate Bay in Sweden, resulted in prison sentences for the defendants. However, case about the domain names 'piratebay.se' and 'thepiratebay.se' that were used for copyrright infigement continued. In 2013, action was taken against one of the founders of the Pirate Bay (registered holder of the Pirate Bay domain names) and the Internet Foundation in Sweden (IIS), responsible for the top-level domain ‘.se’. The Stockholm District Court and the Svea Court of Appeal found that the founder was guilty of copyright infringement and that the domain name could be forfeited to the state under the Copyright Act's rules on forfeiture. However, the Svea Court of Appeal found  that the IIS do not have the power to de-register the domain name, as it did not belong to them. The founder appealed the case on the grounds that forfeiting rules apply to property, and domain names are not property. The Supreme court referred to the European Council Framework Decision 2005/212/JHA which notes that property ‘includes property of any description, whether corporeal or incorporeal, movable or immovable, and legal documents or instruments evidencing title to or interest in such property’ and instrumentalities ‘means any property used or intended to be used, in any manner, wholly or in part, to commit a criminal offence or criminal offences’, which means that domain names are property for the purposes of forfeiture.

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The Domain Name System (DNS) handles Internet domain names (such as www.google.com) and converts them to Internet Protocol (IP) numbers (and the other way around).

Knowledge and ideas are key resources in the global economy. The protection of knowledge and ideas, through Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), has become one of the predominant issues in the Internet governance debate. Internet-related IPR include copyright and trademarks.

 

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