‘Pirate’ Site ISP Blockades Reversed By Court

As Spain struggles with its continuing online piracy problems, a local court has issued an order for several file-sharing sites to be unblocked by ISPs. The decision overturns a ruling in May which required the service providers to censor torrent and download sites on copyright infringement grounds.

In the eyes of the United States, Spain still needs to do more in the battle against unlawful file-sharing. The country has been making progress though, and in some instances has actually gone much further than any U.S. court would dare.

Following action by the MPAA-affiliated Anti-Piracy Federation (FAP), in May 2014 a court in the city of Zaragoza ordered local ISPs including Vodafone, Movistar and Orange, to block several sites allegedly engaged in copyright infringement.

Within days, SpanishTracker, PCTorrent.com, NewPCT.com, PCTestrenos.com, Descargaya.es and TumejorTV.com were rendered inaccessible. The injunctions were not permanent, however, and could be appealed by the sites’ operators.

As can be seen in the Alexa statistics shown below, direct traffic to NewPCT took a huge hit following the court order. However, the site quickly set up alternative domains and there were several reports in local media indicating that proxies and VPNs had quickly become popular with those looking to regain access to the site.

NewPCT

But while the court order was cheered by rightsholders keen to see Spain dispel ideas that the country is a safe-haven for file-sharing sites, the celebrations were to be short-lived.

The site blocks, championed by both FAP and the police Computer Security Brigade, were this week lifted by a court in Zaragoza.

A judge sitting in Court of Instruction No.10 found that there “insufficient grounds” for maintaining the domain blockades to protect property rights, “especially when it is not absolutely necessary for the continuation of the investigation.”

El Mundo reports that when the case was being processed back in 2013, a court already found that “the facts alleged did not constitute a crime.”

The ISP blockades against the domains are expected to be lifted in the coming days, leaving local and international rightsholders to ponder whether changes in Spanish legislation due this year will help solve the piracy conundrum.

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