Spain's new piracy penalty: Six years in jail

Spain's new piracy penalty: Six years in jail

Summary: The country is proposing prison time for owners of sites that link to illegal versions of copyrighted material.

TOPICS: Piracy, Government, EU

Spain is introducing tough new penalties for owners of websites that link to pirated versions of copyrighted material, after pressure from the US over its piracy record.

Under new legislation introduced as part of a wider reform of the country's penal code, owners of sites found to be making money from linking to pirated material will face prison sentences of up to six years and the closure of their site.

It is the first time Spanish authorities have targeted owners of sites that just provide links to copyrighted material that is illegally distributed via other websites. Previously the law targeted just those who "reproduce, plagiarise, distribute or pass on" copyrighted material, while leaving those who provide the links immune from prosecution, a report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais said

However, users of these link-sharing sites will not be targeted under the new law and search engines and peer-to-peer users will also be exempt.

Speaking at a news conference held on Friday, Spain's justice minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said: "This is a real balance between protecting copyright and new technologies."

Spain had been under pressure from US authorities to crack down on piracy: the country was placed on an international piracy blacklist back in 2008 because of the high number of illegal downloads here. However, it was removed from the list when the current prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, came to power and proposed tougher new laws to deal with online piracy. 

Remaining on the US blacklist could have resulted in trade sanctions being placed on Spain, reports said.

The new legislation is expected to come into effect by the spring of 2014.

Further reading

Topics: Piracy, Government, EU

Steve Evans

About Steve Evans

Steve is a freelance journalist based in Madrid, specialising in technology and how it impacts businesses. His previous roles include web editor at Computer Business Review (CBR) and before that staff writer at a magazine that wrote about and sold collectable items.

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  • Extradition

    Will the U.S. extradite college kids whose Facebook posts link to mp3 files so they can serve 6 year prison sentences in Spain, or is this just another exercise in hypocrisy in the name of U.S. corporate profits?
  • Google's Larry Page and Brin are in trouble.

    Wonder how they will handle highly automated search engine results and user uploaded content (like YouTube)?
    • This law does not cover that

      There are seperate laws that handle websites that host that kind of content (unwittingly)
  • Bravo, Spain.

    Spain’s penalty of up to 6 years jail time is a necessary measure in the fight against online piracy. The penalty is not too severe—it does not target users of link-sharing sites, only the site owners who are making money from the pirated material.

    Spain has come a long way in the five years since it was first placed on an international blacklist for piracy. Spain should be commended for its efforts and the international community should take notice and follow suit.
    • Yeah, and the massive fines for piracy in American courts...

      ...only apply to corporate piracy cases

      errr, what?