P2P file-sharing for private use is legal in Portugal, court rules

As long as it is not done for profit or commercial gain, Portuguese law does not prohibit people from sharing music and video files online, a judgement has stated after 2,000 people were sued by a rights-holder group.

The peer-to-peer file-sharing of music and videos is legal in Portugal as long as it is not done on a commercial scale, a court in the country has ruled.

The ruling, reported on Wednesday by the website Exame Informatica, came after 2,000 Portuguese citizens were sued by a rights-holder group called ACAPOR in early 2011. The court effectively found that Portuguese copyright law was so out of date that it didn't take file-sharing into account, and the people who had been sued had not actually done anything illegal.

"From a legal point of view, even though the user is actively uploading and/or downloading the files being shared, we consider as legal the usage of P2P networks as long as it is for private use — even if the user doesn't cease its participation in the sharing process after he has obtained the file," the ruling stated, with the last clause presumably referring to people continuing to seed files after downloading them.

The state prosecutor's office reportedly also said that copyright prosecutions should not prejudice people's right to "education, culture and freedom in the digital environment", particularly when the person involved was not trying to profit from their file-sharing.

An ACAPOR representative was quoted in the article as saying he did not understand how one can share a file and still keep it for private use. ACAPOR will apparently try to have the judgement overturned.

CBSInteractive's Ricardo Oliveira contributed to this story.

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