Portugal Declares Personal File-Sharing Legal

We’re not used with good news when it comes to file-sharing, but this article makes the exception. ACAPOR – one of Portugal’s advocacy groups – sent the IP addresses of about 2.000 alleged pirates to the Attorney General in 2011 with hopes that they will be prosecuted. But things didn’t turn out as they’ve expected…

A Portuguese prosecutor chose not to follow on the individuals behind the IP addresses, stating that it’s perfectly legal to use file-sharing with personal purposes. Moreover, IP addresses are not enough to build a case against the alleged pirates, he said.

But let’s back up a bit to 2011 when ACAPOR handed out boxes filled with IP-addresses of alleged pirates while wearing T-shirts with imprints saying “Piracy is illegal”.

“We are doing anything we can to alert the government to the very serious situation in the entertainment industry.”

The group added that “1000 complaints a month should be enough to embarrass the judiciary system.”

Their hopes, however, were shattered this year when the Department of Investigation and Penal Action took a look at the complaints and decided not to charge the people involved in this huge case.

“From a legal point of view, while taking into account that users are both uploaders and downloaders in these file-sharing networks, we see this conduct as lawful, even when it’s considered that the users continue to share once the download is finished,” the prosecutor said.

He also pointed that one’s online rights for education, freedom of expression and culture must stand tall as long as the case doesn’t concern commercial copyright infringement.

Furthermore, an IP address ““is not necessarily the user at the moment the infringement takes place, or the user that makes available the copyrighted work, but rather the individual who has the service registered in his name, independent of whether this person using it or not,” his ruling stated.

Nuno Pereira – head of ACAPOR – was not pleased with the decision and said:

“Personally I think the prosecutors just found a way to adapt the law to their interest – and their interest is not having to send 2,000 letters, hear 2,000 people and investigate 2,000 computers.”

Hopefully, this will set a precedent and an example to other countries such as the US, UK or Germany where mass copyright infringement lawsuits are still a thing.