The Spanish House of Representatives has rejected new legislation under which hundreds of file-sharing sites that are currently perfectly legal, could have been shut down. The rejection is a major victory for the tens of thousands of Internet users who launched many protests in recent months. Conversely, the news will come as a disappointment to proponents of the legislation, including the entertainment industries and the U.S. Government.
Traditionally, Spain has been one of the few countries where courts have affirmed that P2P-sites operate legally. In an attempt to change this, the Spanish Government recently proposed new legislation under which sites offering links to copyright works could be taken offline without a judicial order.
The legislation, an amendment which is part of the Sustainable Economy Law (LES), was drafted by Minister of Culture Ángeles González-Sinde and assisted by the United States Government. However, in recent months the proposed legislation, also known as ‘The Sinde Act’, has been widely protested by the public.
In a final attempt to get the amendment rejected, the country’s leading file-sharing sites went down voluntarily this week. Just hours later it became apparent that the public protests had not been in vain.
After a lengthy debate the House of Representatives decided to adopt the Sustainable Economy Law, but reject the controversial amendment. The law will now go to the Senate without the amendment that would allow for the shutdown of P2P sites.
This decision of the House of Representatives was celebrated as a clear victory for the public.
“The will of the people has put an end to the pressure imposed by lobbyists, embassies and foreign governments on our representatives.” the association of Internet users wrote in a response to the good news.
“And this victory has shown something else: that democracy and the rule of law are not guaranteed. They must be earned every day and minute by minute, because if people are not concerned to defend these things, nobody will do it for them,” the association added.
Representatives of the entertainment industries have voiced their disappointment in the press. The president of anti-piracy organization Promusicae regretted the decision of the Government and said that the creative industry has been left for dead, while file-sharing ‘thieves’ get protection.
For the Minister of Culture, the failure to get the amendment approved may have some serious consequences. Both the entertainment industries and people on the pro-filesharing side have already called for the resignation of Ángeles González-Sinde.