Spain Fast Tracks P2P Site Shutdowns

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The Spanish cabinet has today passed legislation that will enable the authorities to shut down file-sharing sites more rapidly. The new legislation gives in to the demands of the US and local copyright lobby, who see Spain's lenient copyright law as a thorn in their side.

Operating a file-sharing oriented website without profiting directly from infringements falls within the boundaries of the law in Spain. In an attempt to change this situation, the Spanish Government has today passed new legislation under which sites offering links to copyright works could be taken offline within days of a complaint.

Under the new law, a newly formed Intellectual Property Commission will file complaints with a judge, who will then have to decide within four days whether or not a site should be pulled offline. The law is the result of an extensive lobby from the entertainment industries who have criticized Spain’s lenient stance towards file-sharing sites.

The Government’s plans have been met with firm opposition from the public. Critics of the new legislation are outraged and argue that it represents a violation of individual Internet users’ rights.

“Copyright should not be placed above citizens’ fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression,” wrote a group of activists recently in a response manifesto on the rights of Internet users.

Initially, the proposed legislation would allow for the closure of file-sharing sites without a warrant or judicial oversight. In the latest plans a judge does have to review the takedown request to guarantee that no fundamental rights are violated.

Although the new text has improved, there are still many critics who claim that no websites should be taken offline without going through all the judicial steps to actually confirm that they operate illegally.

Tomorrow, a group of bloggers, experts, and activists will meet in Madrid to coordinate actions to defend civil rights on the Internet. Many feel that the new legislation has been fast-tracked after pressure from the US and local entertainment industry lobbyists, without carefully reviewing the implications it has for the public.

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