Swedish courts will soon be able to force the country's Internet providers to hand out information on suspected file-sharers in a move to crackdown on online piracy, the culture and justice ministers said Friday.

File-sharing can be traced by tracking the IP addresses of the computers that download or distribute the illegal file.

"We need to... stand up for musicians, authors, filmmakers and all other copyright owners so that they have the right to their own material," Justice Minister Beatrice Ask and Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth wrote in a joint opinion piece published in the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

The ministers said they will move ahead with the proposal this spring.

"Courts... shall be able to demand an Internet provider to give the copyright owner information about who had a certain IP address when it was used for infringement on the Internet," they said.

Sweden has long been criticized as a safe haven for online piracy since it hosts the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.

The site is used by an estimated 10-15 million users worldwide to share films, music and other copyright-protected material.

Four Swedes accused of being the organizers of the site were charged earlier this year with helping others break Swedish copyright law.

Plaintiffs in that case include Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., MGM Pictures Inc., Colombia Pictures Industries Inc., 20th Century Fox Films Co., Sony BMG, Universal and EMI. They have until Feb. 29 to file claims for damages.

Christer Kinch, a spokesman at Swedish Internet provider Com Hem, said his company was happy that online copyright infringement would be treated as a court matter so that Internet providers do not have to "act (as) police."

"It's good in the way that we don't have to judge whether an Internet activity is legal or illegal," he said.

Sweden's Pirate Party, however, which received 0.6 percent of the votes in the 2006 elections and who lobbies for an open information society, called the move a "sanctioned blackmailing operation," saying it was a major intrusion in people's right to privacy.

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