For a long time Spain has had a reputation for being easy on copyright infringement, but this lenient stance shifted last year. After continued pressure from entertainment industry groups, new copyright law amendments were passed which outlaw sites that link to pirated material.
The changes expose site owners to massive fines of up to €600,000 if they fail to respond to takedown requests in time. This liability also applies to non-profit sites that only use advertisements to cover their costs.
Today the changes officially go into effect and already they’ve resulted in two prominent casualties. Popular sports streaming links site Wiziwig.tv and torrent index Elitetorrent.net have both stopped linking to copyrighted material effective immediately.
With hundreds of thousands of visitors per day Wiziwig is the goto site for many sports fans who can’t watch their favorite teams through legal channels.
According to the owner the site was specifically setup in Spain, where linking sites were declared legal in the past.
With the new amendments, however, the site can no longer operate from Spain without risking potential bankruptcy.
“Today is a sad day for all fans of live sports streaming, as we at Wiziwig have to announce that we’re forced to close our website, at least for now. This due to new laws in Spain,” the site’s owner writes in a statement.
“Failing to comply with the new reform puts us at risks of fines being as high as €600,000,- and also losing our domain, hosting and other necessary stuff to operate wiziwig,” he adds.
The founder of Elitetorrent.net also took drastic measures in response to the new legislation. His website, which is ranked among the 100 most visited sites in Spain, didn’t shut down completely but removed all torrents.
“I have always shown to be operating within the law, so I regret that after 11 years elitetorrent.net has to remove all links to downloads that are copyright protected, to suit the new legislation,” Elitetorrent’s Juan José says.
“Despite having fought battles for years against powerful forces, this last battle is very unequal and impossible to win. While the powerful use an army with tanks and warplanes, I can only fight with a stick,” he adds.
Elitetorrent.net remains open without links to downloads, but the owner is encouraging visitors to stay on board. He plans to transform the site into a lively community of movie and TV-fans, with news, trailers and other information.
Wiziwig.tv will shut down completely with the site’s owner deciding to push official content instead of unauthorized streams. He’s joined a new project, GetYourFixtures.com, a website providing information and official links to live sports events.