As residents know already and visitors soon learn, the tackling of piracy and counterfeiting isn’t a high priority in Spain. From the fake luxury goods on the streets to openly sold pirate TV services, the sixth most populated country in Europe often has other things on its mind.
This week, however, the government said it would re-focus attention on piracy and a number of related issues, including reform of compensation for private copying and tax breaks for live entertainment.
In an announcement before the Congressional Culture Committee, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, Minister of Education, Culture and Sports, presented the government’s ‘Culture 20/20 Plan’, the successor to its Strategic Plan for Culture.
Among a basket of cultural-focused measures sits the creation of a special prosecutor’s office, dedicated to fighting piracy and other intellectual property-related offenses.
The Minister said that strengthening the fight against piracy, both online and offline, is an existing project receiving new life as one of the 20/20 Plan’s key objectives.
“It’s an old project with the Ministry of Justice and a clear signal that we’re serious,” he said, adding that the government will boost its human resources and technological means to tackle the problem at hand.
Turning to Internet piracy in particular, the Minister said that between 2012 and 2016 there had been 491 requests to remove illegal content from websites, almost all of which had been resolved. He reported that just over 50 sites had ceased their activities and 200 more had removed illegal content to move into compliance.
While there was no mention of any warning notice campaigns, such as the one underway in the United States and another preparing for launch in the UK, Spain plans to run anti-piracy awareness campaigns, both in the media and in classrooms.
“[We will] raise awareness among schoolchildren to respect property, protect creators and expand cultural heritage,” the Minister said.
“We have to achieve a great sensibility, mainly in the schools, so that the children understand that when they are illegally downloading a song they are stealing. It is an issue of education and awareness in which we will take advantage of the fact that Education and Culture are under the same jurisdiction.”
Also on the agenda is “urgent” reform of unpopular private copying rules and a promise to “respond in a balanced manner to the needs of consumers and the different sectors involved.”
If economic conditions allow, the government also wants to reduce VAT on live entertainment from the current 21% to just 10%.