Spain Mulls Legislation To Shutdown File-Sharing Sites

While there is less will to penalize file-sharers in Spain, the same cannot be said about the sites that facilitate their downloading. Under current law, file-sharing sites of all types have flourished in recent years, but new legislation being mulled could close loopholes and allow them to be disconnected, without the need for a court order.

After endless negotiations between the copyright industries and Internet service providers which ultimately led nowhere, Spain’s Ministry of Culture has decided to take action to break the impasse.

The new Sustainable Economy Law, sponsored by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, includes draft amendments to legislation “to protect intellectual property against piracy on the Internet”.

The proposals will add to the country’s current ‘information society services’ legislation. Article 8.1 already allows for restricting access to the Internet on several grounds – protecting public order, a criminal investigation, national security, protection of public health, protecting personal dignity, anti-discrimination and the protection of children.

It is proposed that new grounds for disconnection will be added to “safeguard intellectual property rights”. This will hand “competent bodies” the authority to require Internet service providers to supply information on customers who are deemed to be breaching copyright.

El Pais reports that there will not be an emphasis on disconnecting individual Internet users, but instead the focus will be on sites providing links to copyright works, of which there are several hundred in Spain.

In a statement, Spain’s Minister for Culture, Ángeles González-Sinde, said that sites offering links to copyright works could be taken offline without a judicial order, an announcement which has met with firm opposition from activists.

While González-Sinde denied yesterday that individual Internet users could have their connections disconnected, there are conflicting reports that the government could add a further amendment to the Sustainable Economy Law to allow for such disconnections under the supervision of a court.

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