Spanish ‘SOPA’: 79 Site Takedown Requests in First Month

Spain's Ministry of Culture has just reported on the first month's activities following the introduction of the country's 'Sinde' anti-piracy law. The controversial legislation, described by some as a Spanish version of SOPA, took effect March 1st and since that time rightsholders have been busy filing notices. Almost 300 complaints have been filed in total including 79 site takedown requests.

After being threatened with a place on a United States trade blacklist, the Spanish government passed the so-called Sinde Law, legislation that allows for the blocking of allegedly infringing sites based on reports from copyright holders.

On March 1st the Sinde law went into effect and now, a month on, the Spanish Ministry of Culture has revealed that in total almost 300 official complaints have been received.

The Comisión de Propiedad Intelectual (Copyright Commission) has received 213 copyright complaints plus 79 closure requests from rightsholders against specific websites accused of online piracy.

The Commission will investigate all allegations and has the power to dismiss claims or set the ball rolling for further action, including the removal of links said to infringe copyright through to the court-ordered closure or ISP blockade of entire websites.

Although the process between complaint and site shutdown can in theory be completed in about a month, the Ministry of Culture reports that no punitive action has yet been taken in respect of the 300 complaints.

It is not clear how many of the complaints being processed, if any, are the result of a hacktivist sabotage campaign launched on the day the Sinde law came into effect.

The group Hackivistas encouraged sites to link to a copyrighted track from artist Eme Navarro, a member of the music rights group SGAE but also an outspoken critic of the Sinde law. Hundreds of websites reportedly linking to Navarro’s song without permission, with Navarro subsequently reporting them to the Ministry of Culture.

While the initial aim of the campaign was to overload the Commission, it was also designed to discover more about the uncertain takedown process. Current thinking suggests that Spanish hosting companies will be asked to shut down non-compliant websites and ISPs will be asked to block those hosted outside Spain.

In theory it’s possible to shut down sites within a month, which could mean that the first closures from the first batch reported by the Ministry of Culture will be seen in April.

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