The on-going fight against file-sharing link sites in Spain is turning into a farce. Despite many rulings which state that the sites break no laws, still anti-piracy groups waste their money pursuing them. As yet another site is cleared of wrong doing, a lawyer who speaks out for civil rights on the Internet is clear on the piracy issue – either join the revolution, or perish.
Another month and yet another defeat in a Spanish court for anti-piracy groups chasing a lost cause against file-sharing sites. Following hot on the heels of a decision in May by the Madrid Provincial Criminal Court in favor of sports streaming links site Rojadirecta, a court has thrown out an appeal against another file-sharing site.
Lauren Films first issued a complaint against links site Cinegratis.net in 2007 but the case has taken 3 years to reach a utterly disappointing but completely predictable outcome for the company.
Following the provisional dismissal of the case by a court in early February, Lauren Films made a petition for amendment. In April, Magistrate’s Court No 1 of Santander dismissed the petition.
The dismissal was based on facts gathered in previous similar cases, i.e “that the simple provision of external links to access content protected by copyright does not constitute a breach of the provisions of Article 270 of the Penal Code.”
Undeterred, the movie company appealed against the decision, claiming that this case was different to other cases where file-sharing sites had been deemed within the law.
Although the Cantabria Provincial Court agreed that the name of the site (translated ‘Movies for free’) was an accurate indication of potential infringement by users, the outcome wasn’t favorable for the studio.
“[..] there is [no] doubt that the very name of the website is a major attraction for network users and explicitly suggests that its contents will provide access to viewing films for free, [but it] must be taken into account the effects of the present action and the purely circumstantial evidence that such free access is done in contravention of the provisions of intellectual property laws,” wrote the Court.
What is important, the court continued, is whether the provision of links to copyright works constitutes a breach of Article 270 of the Penal Code. As in at least eight previous cases of this type, the Court ruled that it does not. The appeal filed against the earlier decision was rejected and the Court confirmed that Cinegratis can carry on, business as usual.
Carlos Sánchez Almeida, lawyer and former member of Fronteras Electrónicas España (FrEE), a group previously affiliated with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is not surprised.
“The lords and masters in the Spanish videographic industry have heard me say, ad nauseam, that the path of repression is not going anywhere. Already in 2003, shortly after the first legal action against a links page, I said that this way you only create heroes and martyrs of technological progress,” he writes.
“When a revolution is underway, there is only one way to go: join it or perish.”