Spanish Web Users Clash With Government Over Anti-piracy Law

Associations of web users and hundreds of Spanish bloggers have said that they were ready to fight measures planned by the government to prevent illegal downloads of movies and music from the Internet, which would include the blocking and closure of offending websites.

The activists announced in Madrid Tuesday the creation of the "Red SOS-tenible" (SOS-tainable Network) as civil society's response to the government offensive to protect intellectual property on the Internet.

The groups will promote a massive civil disobedience campaign, offering anyone with a blog or website the possibility of inserting a search engine for downloads of music and movies.

The administration approved a bill last Friday that would speed up the blockage or closure of websites in cases where a judge finds they allow users to download copyright-protected content free.

Under the procedure proposed by the government, which must still be approved by parliament, copyright holders - artists, record companies and film studios - will be able to report the operations of these websites to a new Intellectual Property Commission.

Functioning as an agency of the culture ministry, this panel of experts would study the complaint and send it to a judge who would have four days to decide whether to close of block the website.

In an interview with EFE, Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez Sinde said there were some 100 to 200 "pirate" websites that could be affected by these measures, adding that the law is not directed against blogs.

"You won't be able to do it, this is a legislative absurdity that will come back to haunt you," the spokesman for, Daniel Vazquez, said in response to the government proposal Tuesday, adding that "the Internet is a big copying machine and whoever doesn't adapt to it will be out of the market".

"Our goal is to launch an offensive to guarantee regulation of the digital environment that allows all the potential of the net and of cultural creativity to be expressed while respecting fundamental freedoms," the platform's founding statement says.

For another member of Red SOS-tenible, musician Eme Navarro, the measures that the administration plans to approve "are made to measure for an obsolete, out-dated and dying industry" and harms "creative freedom and the distribution of creative work".

Spain is included on the Internet piracy "blacklist" published annually by the US.

Web users have grown accustomed to downloading discs and movies free, which has cost the entertainment industry hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, according to Spanish copyright associations and the International Intellectual Property Alliance.

Gonzalez-Sinde has said that the anti-piracy measures seek to do away with those websites "that are massively and manifestly dedicated" to illegal downloads and are not directed against users.

"We're talking about a (web) page that makes money and is detrimental to someone because it exploits a product for which it has no license nor contract of any kind, and this has nothing to do with a blog that posts a quote or a music video," the minister said.

The government expects the legislation to go into effect by midyear, once it is passed by parliament.

Published Date: Jan 13, 2010 02:43 pm | Updated Date: Jan 13, 2010 02:43 pm