The Swedish parliament has voted for tough new measures designed to stamp out illegal viewing of pay-TV signals.

While it was already illegal to promote the use of cardsharing networks for commercial purposes, the new legislation targets individuals, making it a criminal offence to watch TV through illegal networks.

The move was welcomed by the industry organization Nordic Content Protection – STOP. “This was a necessary move by the government. Sweden is one of the hardest hit countries in terms of cardsharing and legislation needed to be supplemented. Similar legislation has proven to be effective in Denmark and Norway. We are therefore very positive that a broad parliamentary majority now have backed the government’s proposal, said STOP’s David Wurgler.

According to a STOP estimate, 300,000 Swedes use cardsharing systems.

“The problem of cardsharing is unfortunately particularly prevalent in hockey towns, and we appreciate that clubs in the SHL annually loses millions in lost revenue from TV broadcasts, so the amendment is clearly a step in the right direction,” says Erik Strandmarksvägen responsible for media rights Swedish Hockey League (SHL).

The change in the law means that certain private unauthorized use of decoders has now been made illegal. This makes it an offence to acquire and use decoding equipment for private use. It is also an offence to manufacture, import, distribute, sell, rent, or install equipment.