BitTorrent Sites Step Closer to Legality in Spain

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In September a Spanish court decided that the eDonkey indexing site Sharemula operated legally, indicating that linking to copyright infringing material is permitted under the law. Now that decision has been reinforced as a court decides that a torrent site previously shutdown by the police, also operated legally.

TodoTorrenteIn July 2007 we reported on the case of TodoTorrente.com, one of Spain’s largest BitTorrent sites. After a year long investigation by Spain’s Anti-Piracy Federation, an announcement was made by the Directorate of Police and Civil Guard – the site had been raided and closed by judicial order while the administrators arrested.

According to Spanish police, the site caused the entertainment industries 535,000 euros in losses and made 30,000 euros in profits. Unfortunately the authorities didn’t have the benefit of foresight, which would’ve given them an understanding of how Spanish law would deal with a site that links to copyright infringing material.

In September 2008, a Spanish court ruled that providing links to copyrighted material is not a crime. The Provincial Court of Madrid ruled that Sharemula.com, a site offering eDonkey links to movies, music, software and games, did not break the law. Furthermore, the court’s decision was final and could not be appealed.

If the ruling in the Sharemula case holds up, this means that TodoTorrente was not breaking the law either. Lawyer David Bravo who was involved in the TodoTorrente case, has contacted TorrentFreak with an update on the TodoTorrente situation. David notes that the coverage of the TodoTorrente raids and arrests had a great impact in the Spanish media, and further afield.

Of particular interest was a gloating editorial which published in Portal Latino, which claimed that TodoTorrente wasn’t “kids playing on a network” but an “illegal business”, and celebrated the closure. David explains that the media uproar this caused left little room for the arrested admins to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

However, after an application was made to Magistrate’s Court No.3 in Orihuela, it has now issued an interim order of dismissal of the case against TodoTorrente. The court decided that the site or admins didn’t commit any crime “since the investigation showed that the website was limited to providing links to downloads and didn’t offer downloads directly.”

Essentially, the court has decided that TodoTorrente operated in a similar manner to Sharemula. The decision is open to appeal, but there is no doubt that BitTorrent sites are getting closer to legality in Spain.

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