A Swedish appeals court on Tuesday overturned a landmark file sharing ruling that forced an Internet service provider to reveal an Internet user's identity to five publishers.
The ruling was the first one to be rendered on the basis of Sweden's new so-called "Ipred" law, which came into effect April 1 and gives copyright holders the right to require Internet service providers to reveal details of users who share files, paving the way for legal action.
The five publishers had sued the Ephone Internet service provider in order to obtain the IP address of a server which stocked 27 audio books to which they held the rights.
The Stockholm court of appeals said in its ruling that it had not been proven that the server was accessible to the public at large.
The court's chief judge had to intervene for the decision to be rendered because the court's four other judges were split on the affair.
In June, a lower court had ordered Ephone to reveal the identity of the person whose computer was connected to the IP address concerned.
Swedish Internet users have significantly cut down on illegal downloading since the Ipred law came into effect. The practice was so widespread that overall Internet traffic has plunged by 30 to 40 percent since the law came into force.
Ipred has been lauded by the music, film and video games industries but staunchly criticised by the Pirate Party, which wants to legalise Internet file sharing and beef up web privacy.
(c) 2009 AFP
Explore further: Entrepreneur, activist Sina Khanifar on digital copyright reform