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No kidding: Finnish police confiscate 9 year old’s Winnie the Pooh laptop for illegal downloading

Published time: November 27, 2012 20:05
Edited time: November 28, 2012 09:27
(Reuters / John Gress)

(Reuters / John Gress)

The latest threat to intellectual property is, apparently, a nine year old girl. In an early-morning raid Finnish police confiscated her laptop after she allegedly illegally downloaded a music album from The Pirate Bay website.

When Finnish police turned up at the girl’s house last week with a search warrant authorizing them to look for evidence connected to the illicit file-sharing, many people were shocked.

But the police had no idea that the suspect was in-fact a small child.

The ‘evidence’ the police were relying on was collected by an anti-piracy group and based on a simple IP address.

The CIAPC (Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre), one of the companies that has attempted to block Finnish ISPs (Internet Service Providers) from hosting The Pirate Bay, initially tracked the alleged illegal file share and demanded the Internet account holder to pay a cash settlement and sign a non-disclosure document.

The CIAPC is a non-profit association that is financed by its member associations as well as the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

The user of the IP address, the girl’s father, refused to pay the 600 Euros demanded, torrentfreak.com reports, which led the CIAPC to throw the book at them, resulting in the raid and confiscation.

The album the girl allegedly downloaded was by Finnish pop star Chisu, who in the wake of the incident stated on her Facebook page that she did not want to sue any of her fans for downloading her music.

Moreover, according to the girl’s father, she apparently did not manage to download the music anyway as torrents are not something a nine-year-old would manage by a click or two, so the family ended up going to a store to buy it.

Her father said that when the police turned up he felt like it was the mafia demanding money.

“We have not done anything wrong with my daughter. If adults do not always know how to use a computer and the web, how can you assume that children or the elderly – or a 9-year-old girl – knows what they are doing at any given time online?” the girl’s father said. “This is the pinnacle of absurdity. I can see artists are in a position, but this requires education and information, not resource-consuming lawsuits.”

The age of the alleged infringer obviously did not impress the police and they left, telling the man that “it would have been easier for all concerned” if he had paid the compensation.

The little girl has had little to smile about throughout this ordeal, but a token gesture by a group of anonymous donors who gave her a brand new laptop must surely have cheered her up.

And although the group of donors asked to remain anonymous, there is speculation that it was in fact Chisu who slammed the police’s actions on her Facebook page.

“I hope that the matter will be resolved soon and am sorry to my 9-year-old girls,” the singer wrote, pointing to a free link to her music on Spotify.

The little girl’s case is just one of many in Finland. During the last fall, 28 Internet account holders settled with CIAPC. However, the details of their cases will never hit the headlines due to the non-disclosure documents they signed.

Finland isn’t the only EU country cracking down on illegal downloading. In 2009, France adopted a strict HADOPI law, or the “Three Strikes Law” a sort of which was then picked up by the UK and also by such nations as South Korea and New Zealand.

The “Three Strikes Law” requires internet companies to issue warning notices to customers alleged to have downloaded copyright content illegally, such as music or movies, if requested by the rights holder. After a third warning, a case can be brought before the Copyright Tribunal.

In the rest of the EU, different countries can apply the union’s directives and/or local laws for similar cases.

Still, politicians and business leaders are constantly searching for ways to set more limits to the Internet, which take forms of various proposed international acts such as the ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This very initiative, though signed by the bloc in 2011, failed to be adopted, as it was contested by fierce public protests.

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