U.S. 'threatened to blacklist Spain' over SOPA-style law

U.S. 'threatened to blacklist Spain' over SOPA-style law

Summary: Spain has introduced a thought-to-be-dead SOPA-style anti-piracy law. But it now appears that the U.S. government pressured -- and threatened -- Spain's vulnerable economy.

TOPICS: Government, Legal, Piracy, EU

Spain has this week adopted a law similar to that of the SOPA in the United States, allowing sites to be blocked at ISP-level if they are found to be distributing copyrighted material.

But how the law was passed involved alleged political pressure and 'underhand' involvement from the U.S., according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.

In 2010, the disclosure of Wikileaks' diplomatic cables effectively killed off Spain's anti-piracy "Sinde Law", named after the then-culture minister.

The 250,000 odd diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks last year included messages from the U.S. Embassy in Spain. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) accused the U.S. government of "bullying" Spain into passing the anti-piracy laws.

Just as the European Union forced the U.S. to play ball in data protection practices -- even though it has no jurisdictional right to do so -- the U.S. used the Special 301 Report to push lax-copyright enforcing nations into complying with U.S. anti-piracy standards.

The U.S. demanded that the Spanish government take action to enact tougher policies on file sharing by passing the Sinde Law, or the U.S. would retaliate with trade restrictions or embargoes.

While the UK is safe from U.S. pressure with the Digital Economy Act, other countries on the list include China, Russia, but also Canada, much to the surprise of many.

The cable in question, from the U.S. ambassador back to Washington, read:

"We propose to tell the new government that Spain will appear on the Watch List if it does not do three things by October 2008. First, issue a [Government of Spain] announcement stating that Internet piracy is illegal, and that the copyright levy system does not compensate creators for copyrighted material acquired through peer-to-peer file sharing. Second, amend the 2006 “circular” that is widely interpreted in Spain as saying that peer-to-peer file sharing is legal. Third, announce that the GoS will adopt measures along the lines of the French and/or UK proposals aimed at curbing Internet piracy by the summer of 2009."

But the outgoing government could not pass the legislation, and "failed to finish the job for political reasons, to the detriment of the reputation and economy of Spain", said the U.S. ambassador in a letter obtained by newspaper El Pais.

During the final days of the Spanish administration, the U.S. ambassador attempted once more, imploring the government to introduce the Sinde Law immediately.

In a letter to the Spanish culture minister, sent also to the Spanish prime minister, the U.S. ambassador explained that the country was already on the Special 301 list, and threatened to degrade the country even further.

TorrentFreak reports that should the country be added to the "Priority Watch List", it would be in violation of trade agreements from the U.S. and further sanctions and 'retaliatory actions' could be applied.

The government left office, and the Partido Popular ("People's Party") administration took office late last month. The U.S. was quick to pressure the new government, and subsequently the Sinde Law came into force two days ago on January 3rd.

Behind-the-scenes lobbying is not uncommon, particularly when private industry is heavily affected the laws in question. But it does appear to explain why the flip-flop between one government failing to enact tough SOPA-like anti-piracy laws, and a new government quickly ratifying it.

Image source: Flickr.


Topics: Government, Legal, Piracy, EU

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: U.S. 'threatened to blacklist Spain' over SOPA-style law

    The US has become a rogue state, whereby it subsidises "cooking" classes for the Israel military, whilst back home lets it's elderly starve. And now not only does it politicians feel fit to criminalise it's own citizens and view them as guilty until proven innocent, but now seeks to promote imperial tendencies across the globe.

    Stand up Americans.
    • RE: U.S. 'threatened to blacklist Spain' over SOPA-style law

      @Bozzer If people changed the 'word' US or USA or America for China, Iran, Iraq or North Korea they'd be outraged, but as its done by the "good guys" it all seems OK.
      • well said

        Brain washing and cognitive dicedence we have to deal with it here in that State all the time.
  • ....

    Makes me so f***ing angry...
    This government needs to be torn down ASAP. The stuff they think they can get away with... makes me so pissed off...
  • RE: U.S. 'threatened to blacklist Spain' over SOPA-style law

    This goes to show why it is past time to remove all goverments from any control over the root dns servers.
  • So what? Hollywood rules the world?

    The entertainment industry is horrible! You have all this collusion going on among companies, which then approach the US government, which accommodate their every whim. There should be instead, strong competition taking place among these companies. Can you imagine if companies in the computer industry relied heavily on lobbying rather than innovation, to adapt to changing conditions? That is why it is so vital that the Internet remains free of censorship. There must be avenues people can take, which circumvents how these companies wish to channel information.

    It really irks me how Republicans are pushing the SOPA bill, when the Internet has played a vital role in their being able to circumvent old media, and get their information out there. Republicans specifically are fools for embracing a SOPA bill which will censor the Internet, because they will be among the bill's biggest casualties.
    P. Douglas
    • It's easy to defeat this sort of thing...

      @P. Douglas ...but the sheeple refuse to be parted with their precious media garbage that they seem addicted to watching every day. The solution? Don't buy music, don't buy/go to movies, don't watch the crappy TV. Save your money and let them starve and collapse under their own oppressively onerous weight. We have the ultimate control in voting with our pocketbooks.

      Start up a movement to boycott their products. I would say that six months would prove a good enough period to make a point. Let them die.

      But, the media addicted Sheeple are unlikely to band together and stop buying for long enough to make a difference.
      • Perhaps not easy - but when they feel the heat, they'll see the light

        I don't pretend that it'll be easy to get people to help shut this down, but it's the only way to do it. MPAA and RIAA understand cost-benefit analysis. If lobbying for SOPA costs them a boycott NOW versus any return they hope to get in the future, they'll pay attention. EFF needs to locate artists and media people who agree that SOPA's a mistake and use social media - the only affordable communications channel - to show people what SOPA really means, and to make lobbying for SOPA a real, short-term corporate liability.
    • Your hate is showing.....

      @P. Douglas

      This bill is supported by politicians from both parties. Park your hate somewhere else.
      linux for me
      • and if you MUST hate, hate the right people...

        ...like Christopher Dodd, who's found out pimping for MPAA pays even better than being a US Senator. He's the perfect metaphor for what they're all about.
    • Wrong in one importan factor: the number of democrats supporting the act is

      greater than the number of republicans. <br><br>Furthermore, it's a democrat president at the helm, so, if he and the democrats don't want SOPA, then it's very easy to veto the bill.<br><br>You're too quick to judge without checking the facts.<br><br>Myself and most republicans are opposed to SOPA, and that opposition is probably overwhelming.
      • If you're right...

        @adornoe@... <br>...then SOPA will be defeated in the House. It really should be defeated overwhelmingly, but I think Republican politicians like their re-election dollars just as much as Democrats do.<br><br>One thing to consider: It appears that the House Republican leadership has a policy of not allowing major legislation to come to the floor unless it can be passed with Republican votes alone, so if your assertion is correct, then SOPA is dead as a doornail.<br><br>Reply to Adornoe:<br><br>The Senate can't pass anything without the approval of the House and the House is controlled by the Republican Party (and in practice, nothing makes it to the floor without the approval of the Speaker and the House Rules Committee). Ergo, if you're right, then the bill is dead.
        John L. Ries
      • John: I've posted in the past the list of senators supporting SOPA,

        and it's not a question about whether I'm right in that respect. The numbers speak for themselves.

        When it comes to the actual numbers once the votes are taken, one never knows, but one thing for sure is that, there will be more democrats voting for SOPA than republicans. After all, SOPA is legislation favoring one of their biggest supporting constituencies, that being the Hollywood and entertainment crowd.
      • Follow the money...

        ...which is passing through former Senate Democrat Christopher Dodd. If MPAA thought they had a prayer of getting Republican support for this bill, they'd have hired leading Republican lobbyist Billy Tauzin away from PHRMA, or John Breaux (a blue dog Democrat who would have been able to sway people from BOTH parties). Instead, they put all their chips on Christopher Dodd, a Democrat who knows where all his party's bodies are buried. Dodd would be an outstandingly poor choice to sway Republicans.
    • CHRIS DODD'S pushing SOPA.

      MPAA hired Christopher Dodd, who during his career as a leading Democrat in the US Senate was very near to indictment on corruption charges, as their current Chairman. Just how much influence do you think Dodd has among those ol' debbil Republicans? Unfortunately, MPAA is pushing a bipartisan strategy of buying off members of BOTH parties who are in safe Congressional districts and Senate seats (and very few people in this country have better job security than an incumbent US Senator, unless, like Christopher Dodd, their hands are caught in the cookie jar). Nice try at slamming the Republican Party, but MPAA showed us which party they're interested in buying now. They found the crookedest Democrat they could, and put him in charge of their lobbying.
  • RE: U.S. 'threatened to blacklist Spain' over SOPA-style law

    Really, these SOPA bills need to die a quick death.
  • It's no wonder that most of the rest of the world hates us...

    Private interests like big media use our government as their private, world-wide, gestapo police force. Our government keeps granting itself even more power over us. Our government has methodically set up laws which will prevent any attempts to throw them out of power. The communications of all private citizens are monitored. The Patriot Act allows them to quietly throw citizens who act or speak out against the government in prison without a trial or any other oversight by simply labeling the action a "suspected terrorist act." The person just disappears while friends and family try to figure out what happened. There are many cases where families finally tracked down a missing loved one, falsely rotting in Guantanamo with no trial, and eventually got them released by exposing the government deceit. Big media even tried to get them to officially label piracy as a terrorist act so they wouldn't have to go through embarrassing public trials to jail grandmothers who put a song in a video of their grandchildren dancing. Worst of all, our government is trying to spread our special brand of insanity worldwide by threatening the economies and well-being of every other nation. At some point, we're all going to have to beg a worldwide coalition of nations to intervene on our behalf and remove our government so we can start over. Our government is getting so far out of control that their abuses are making China look like a paradise.
  • When people vote for greater and bigger government, then expect to get what

    the "people" voted for.<br><br>NEVER give big government advocates an inch, because, they'll extend it to a mile. Never fails!
  • Republicans

    @P. Douglas
    get your head out of the sand all governments in the US are owned by business interests.Obama's government has been trying to force through some of the most oppressive legislation seen anywhere outside of a dictatorship,so I suggest instead of pointing at one party you open up your eyes and help fight against the MAFIRIAA and leave the blaming to the politicians ...because they are so good at blaming each other while stealing your freedom!!
    • it's a bipartisan problem, and MPAA likes to hire Democrats...

      MPAA and RIAA target legislators in safe districts, regardless of party, to get votes for SOPA and similar crap. But as far as the Republican-bashing, who did MPAA hire as their chief lobbyist? Sen. Christopher Dodd, a DEMOCRAT. Using Dodd to influence Republicans would be little short of idiotic. Dodd's predecessor at MPAA was Dan Glickman. ALSO A DEMOCRAT - he was Bill Clinton's Secretary of Agriculture and for 18 years before that a Democrat Congressman from Kansas (where his main achievement was getting immunity for small aircraft manufacturers from lawsuits because general aviation aircraft have a deserved nickname - "doctor killers" - from the frequency with which their owners die in crashes). So let's get back to reality. MPAA will buy ANYONE, but for the big lobbying jobs, they hire powerful Democrats and have done so for years.