Following a Federación Antipiratería (Anti-piracy Federation) investigation in 2006, 15 people were arrested in Spain in connection with the operation of Sharemula.com, an eDonkey (eD2k) indexing site. eD2k links are similar to URLs or .torrent files, in that they contain no copyright material themselves, but may point to such works.
Spain’s Brigade of Technological Investigations claimed that the site was illegal and should be closed. Just under a year ago the case was heard, but sadly for the entertainment industry, the court ruled that the case against Sharemula should be dismissed. It said that neither the site nor administrators had operated illegally by offering links to copyright works, since they had not done so for profit or commercial gain.
However, the entertainment industry – including but not limited to Columbia, Disney Company Iberia, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner, Universal, Paramount, Sony and MGM, did not accept the ruling and appealed the decision.
Yesterday, the Provincial Court of Madrid ruled that the entertainment industry has no case against Sharemula, and since it has broken no laws, the case should be dismissed. This dismissal is final and cannot be appealed.
The court rejected all allegations that were made by the entertainment industry and concluded that indexing eD2k links (or torrent files) can not be seen as copyright infringement (pdf in Spanish). Sharemula’s main purpose is to index links, and they are not responsible for where these links go according to the court decision. Whether or not Sharemula makes profit is irrelevant.
“The hearing confirms the position of the defense that linking to P2P networks does not constitute a criminal offense,” wrote David Bravo, a lawyer in the case, noting that Sharemula did not store any copyrighted material. The site simply links to files that are hosted elsewhere, on computers of P2P users.
It is on this same premise that The Pirate Bay claims to operate legally. With upcoming cases against The Pirate Bay and Mininova in Europe, this decision is very welcome for p2p-site administrators.