In September this year, movie rental association ACAPOR filed a complaint against The Pirate Bay with the General Inspection of Cultural Activities, a department of the Portuguese Ministry of Culture.
Blaming the site for 15 million illegal downloads in Portugal every year, ACAPOR demanded that the country’s ISPs should take similiar action to that taken in Italy, and block The Pirate Bay.
In a parallel action, a complaint was also made against Piratatuga.net, a file-sharing site which has proven extremely popular among their countrymen, also blamed for millions of downloads. In this case a criminal investigation was requested.
But having taken action against the sites that facilitate the transfers undertaken by file-sharers, ACAPOR – which recently had its email database hacked as part of Operation Payback – is now widening its approach somewhat. Starting in January 2011, the movie interests group will begin reporting thousands of file-sharers to the authorities.
Their aim? To have punishments for file-sharing made less severe.
According to ACAPOR president Nuno Pereira, only one case has been brought against a Portuguese file-sharer. He believes that this restrained approach is down to the justice system being afraid of the 3 year jail sentences currently on the books for the offense.
Calling the current system “outdated”, Pereira is calling for Portuguese law to be changed to follow the French lead of a graduated response.
“It would be better to replace the prison sentence, which is never enforced and that is excessive, for a breach or a cut in Internet access, like they do in France,” he explained.
Pereira also says that if the current law was applied as required, the criminal courts would become inundated with case of illegal file-sharing.
So, in order to ‘help’ the situation, Pereira has announced a new ACAPOR strategy of – wait for it – inundating the criminal courts with cases of illegal file-sharing.
Starting January 5th 2011, ACAPOR will begin filing “the largest collection of criminal complaints submitted simultaneously in the history of Portuguese Justice” against individuals alleged to have shared movies online.
“From that day on, every month we will file 1,000 new complaints,” said Pereira, adding that although file-sharing is a crime in Portugal, ACAPOR is being forced to act privately because their complaints to the government have come to nothing.
Will the justice system be able to keep up with what is in effect a Denial of Service attack on the courts? Almost certainly not. But this stunt appears to be less about justice and more about pressuring the government and generating publicity to scare potential file-sharers.