Spain has been considered to be a safe place for file-sharing enthusiasts. Downloading copyrighted music and movies for personal use is allowed, and operating a file-sharing oriented website also falls within the boundaries of the law if no profits are made directly from infringements.
This lenient stance towards casual copyright infringement is about to change. The Spanish government is currently drafting amendments to current legislation in order to “to protect intellectual property against piracy on the Internet”.
Although individual file-sharers aren’t the current focus of the amendments, it is feared that further changes could be made in future to include them. However, what is certain is that sites that offer links to copyrighted material are almost certainly set to face an aggressive crackdown.
Spain’s Minister for Culture, Ángeles González-Sinde, announced that under the proposed legislation, such pirate sites could be taken offline without a judicial order.
It is no surprise that these announcements have been met with huge resistance from Internet users, who feel that once again their rights are being violated in order to meet the demands of the entertainment industry.
In a response to the Government’s proposals, hacktivists have defaced the website of Promusicae, a music industry body that has lobbied long and hard for more strict copyright laws in Spain.
The hackers have replaced the site’s content with a manifesto in which they call for a real reform of current copyright law, a limit placed on the power of the copyright cartels and the placement of Internet users’ rights above the commercial interests of copyright holders.
Below is the manifesto in full, as it appears on the defaced Promusicae website.
Manifesto on the rights of Internet users
A group of journalists, bloggers, professionals and creators want to express their firm opposition to the inclusion in a Draft Law of some changes to Spanish laws restricting the freedoms of expression, information and access to culture on the Internet. They also declare that:
1 .- Copyright should not be placed above citizens’ fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression.
2 .- Suspension of fundamental rights is and must remain an exclusive competence of judges. This blueprint, contrary to the provisions of Article 20.5 of the Spanish Constitution, places in the hands of the executive the power to keep Spanish citizens from accessing certain websites.
3 .- The proposed laws would create legal uncertainty across Spanish IT companies, damaging one of the few areas of development and future of our economy, hindering the creation of startups, introducing barriers to competition and slowing down its international projection.
4 .- The proposed laws threaten creativity and hinder cultural development. The Internet and new technologies have democratized the creation and publication of all types of content, which no longer depends on an old small industry but on multiple and different sources.
5 .- Authors, like all workers, are entitled to live out of their creative ideas, business models and activities linked to their creations. Trying to hold an obsolete industry with legislative changes is neither fair nor realistic. If their business model was based on controlling copies of any creation and this is not possible any more on the Internet, they should look for a new business model.
6 .- We believe that cultural industries need modern, effective, credible and affordable alternatives to survive. They also need to adapt to new social practices.
7 .- The Internet should be free and not have any interference from groups that seek to perpetuate obsolete business models and stop the free flow of human knowledge.
8 .- We ask the Government to guarantee net neutrality in Spain, as it will act as a framework in which a sustainable economy may develop.
9 .- We propose a real reform of intellectual property rights in order to ensure a society of knowledge, promote the public domain and limit abuses from copyright organizations.
10 .- In a democracy, laws and their amendments should only be adopted after a timely public debate and consultation with all involved parties. Legislative changes affecting fundamental rights can only be made in a Constitutional law.