In the past few months a controversial piece of legislation emerged in order to shut down file-sharing websites. This resulted in protests from the public and in December they proved to be successful as the House of Representatives rejected the proposal.
Spain has been one of the few countries operating p2p sites legally, under the decision of their courts. However, probably under the pressure of the United States – who helped the Spanish Government with introducing new laws against copyright infringement – they resurrected the law.
As a result, the Spanish Government proposed a new set of laws saying that any website posting copyright material should be closed without a judicial order. The public considered this an act of abuse and censorship. This legislation (an amendment which is part of the Sustainable Economy Law – LES) was orchestrated by the Minister of Culture Ángeles González-Sinde with the help of the United States Government.
The House of Representatives decided to adopt LES but rejected the controversial amendment. As a result, the law should have gone to the Senate – without the amendment – but yesterday proved that this could be just a false hope.
Hours before the deadline for submitting new amendments passed, a coalition between The Socialist Party (PSOE), the People’s Party (PP) and Convergence and Union (CiU) formed and reintroduced “The Sinde Act” with some minor changes. The purpose, however, is to shut down any p2p website that contains copyright material. This will be voted, in the weeks to come, by the Senate.
The major change is that the new Sinde Act will allow more “judicial control” – meaning that a judge must sign off if details about a website’s ownership are to be needed. Still, no judge is required to establish if a file-sharing website comes in conflict with copyright laws.
The public’s reaction was strong as Spanish Media printed hundreds of reports regarding the new legislation. This was also criticized by the President of the Academy of Cinema, Álex de la Iglesia: “It would have been better to start from scratch. It is a law that from the beginning has been very unpopular”.
Ángeles González replied that this law is created with the purpose of promoting innovation and that the Internet should not be feeling threatened by it.
What the Senate will decide remains to be seen. However, online protests are underway.