Today, the Criminal Court of Pamplona ruled that a man didn’t break any laws by downloading thousands of movies and an undetermined number of songs. The defendant was acquitted of copyright infringement charges because there was no evidence that he profited from downloading the movies and music, or sharing them with others.
The judge acknowledged that the man indeed downloaded the files “without consent of the copyright holders” in 2003 and 2004, but ruled that he only did so for for “private use or sharing with other Internet users.” There was no financial gain, so no crime has been committed and the defendant walked free.
This is not the first time a Spanish court has ruled in favor of a file-sharer. In 2006, a man was similarly acquitted, and more recently it was ruled that websites linking to p2p downloads (torrents for example) operate within the law. Spanish law dictates that there has to be “an intent to profit” for someone to be held liable for copyright infringement.
Graffiti on a defunct Blockbuster store in Spain
Not everyone agrees with Spain’s liberal view on copyright infringement. According to the US, the Spanish government has done little “to change the widespread misperception in Spain that peer-to-peer file-sharing is legal.” However, as the courts show time and time again, this is no misperception – it is how the law spells it out.
Since sharing files on BitTorrent and other file-sharing networks is legal, it is no surprise that Spain tops the list of countries with the most recorded copyright infringements. Close to 25 million were counted by the piracy tracking company BayTSP in 2008, mostly on BitTorrent.