Following an investigation by the authorities and audiovisual rights collecting society EGEDA and Columbia Tristar, in early 2005 Spanish police embarked on an operation aimed at shutting down popular file-sharing forum CVCDGO.com.
EGEDA complained that site allowed members to download movies located on P2P networks, sometimes which had yet to have a theatrical release. Like many file-sharing sites, CVCDGO had been financed by advertising since its 2004 launch and in its short life it allegedly received more than 11 million visits.
Conducted by the country’s Intellectual Property Crime Squad, ‘Operation CVCD’ culminated later in 2005 in raids on locations in Malaga, Seville and Madrid. There police arrested the four male operators of the site who at the time were aged between 27 and 37 years old. The servers, meanwhile, remained located in San Diego in the United States,
The legal proceedings have dragged on ever since, but now the Provincial Court of Madrid has finally closed the case, finding that no offenses had been committed.
In common with every other file-sharing case coming out of the Spanish legal system recently, the Court found that since the site did not host the actual copyright files and generated no profit directly from any infringements of copyright, the presence of advertising on the site did not constitute a crime.
In their ruling, judges Ocariz, Gutierrez and Campillo said that “..since ancient times there has been the loan or sale of books, movies, music and more. The difference now is mainly on the medium used – previously it was paper or analog media and now everything is in a digital format which allows a much faster exchange of a higher quality and also with global reach through the Internet.”
The judges noted that all this takes places between many users all at once without any of them receiving any financial reward.
Lawyer Carlos Sanchez Almeida, whose law firm defended the case, said that the decision meant that the judges were sending a clear message to the government, informing Culture Minister González Sinde that there is a “red line that should not be crossed.”
“The judges have taken a stand for freedom on the Internet,” he added.
The decision cannot be appealed.