Portugal Hands Jail Sentence to First Convicted File-Sharer

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In the first conviction of a file-sharer in the country, Portuguese authorities have handed down a harsh sentence of 90 days imprisonment in order to "set an example". The unnamed individual faced court after the Portuguese version of the RIAA issued a complaint about unauthorized uploading.

It seems that every country around Europe has its own ways of dealing with file-sharers. In the UK these days it’s customary to send out educational warnings, but in the past borderline extortion letters seemed in order, depending on the mood of the day. Downloading has been tolerated in the Netherlands but France would like to disconnect persistent file-sharers from the Internet.

Another day sees another country’s interpretation of the law when it comes to dealing with file-sharers, this time from sunny Portugal. Following a complaint from the Portuguese version of the RIAA, a court in Portimão has handed down a severe sentence in the country’s first ever case involving a file-sharer. One incredibly unlucky individual has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for uploading music on P2P networks, with the severity of punishment decided upon “to set an example”.

The individual was investigated after a complaint from the Portuguese Phonographic Association (AFP), which was confirmed by João Teixeira, an association member and director-general of EMI in Portugal. News reports suggest the conviction was related to ‘downloading’ music but this is a common mistake. The individual was accused and found guilty of ‘uploading’ or distribution of copyright works and is just one of more than a hundred other complaints under investigation right now.

Mr Teixeira said that although he was pleased with the sentence (calling it a “necessary evil”) he noted that there are other methods that can be employed to stop file-sharers, such as the recent “3 strikes” law in France. However, it seems he will settle for a jail sentence sending the message to the masses: “The problem is people know they are doing something illegal, but they also know there are no consequences, at least until this week,” he said.

Fortunately, it seems that the jail sentence handed down can be replaced by the individual paying fines to the court plus some compensation, although there is no indication of the amounts involved at this stage.

Taking the same stance as some of his associates in the UK, João Teixeira lays the blame for file-sharing at the door of the ISPs, claiming that they encourage people to do so.


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