Website Blocking Law Implemented By New Spanish Government

Spain's new government has wasted no time in approving tough new legislation to combat unauthorized file-sharing. After less than two weeks in power, the Partido Popular government has fully implemented the so-called Sinde Law. Spaniards can look forward to previously legal sites being blocked by ISPs or shut down completely, all within 10 days of a rightsholder complaint.

In the last decade Spain has truly emerged as one of file-sharing’s safe-havens. Countless court decisions have affirmed that P2P indexing sites operate legally, with most cases against site operators going in favor of the defendants.

This state of affairs led to huge pressure on Spain from the United States, and behind closed doors the two countries drafted new laws in preparation for a time when Spain was ready to clamp down on file-sharing. That time has come.

After taking power in mid-December, Spain’s incoming Partido Popular (People’s Party) government has now fully approved their pending Sustainable Economy Law (LES), legislation designed to stop Spanish Internet users from accessing file-sharing sites.

Deputy Prime Minister Maria Soraya Saenz de Santamaria announced at a press conference that the so-called Sinde Law, named after outgoing Minister of Culture Ángeles González-Sinde, will now be fully implemented.

The legislation, which will give the authorities the power to swiftly close file-sharing sites or have them blocked at the ISP level, was actually passed by the Spanish Parliament in February 2011, but the former government failed to enact a supporting regulatory framework and it has laid dormant since.

In her speech, Santamaria said that the new law’s objective was “to protect against the plundering of intellectual property rights” and to ensure that Spain “joined the international standard in the fight against online piracy.”

The decision on whether to shutter or block file-sharing sites will sit with the Intellectual Property Committee. This panel will have the power to take action against those providing illegal content and entities providing infrastructure, all within 10 days of a complaint by rightsholders.

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