Spain develops tough anti-piracy laws

The Spanish Education and Culture Minister hopes that new, unforgiving piracy laws will be enough to satisfy the United States.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on
spanish piracy law bill proposal america watch list

Spanish Education and Culture Minister Jose Ignacio Wert hopes that a set of "anti-piracy" laws will be enough to take the country off the naughty list for copyright violators.

The European country is rife with pirates who joyfully download the latest episode of Game of Thrones or enjoy free access to games and music, and so is in danger of being placed on the U.S.'s "watch list" of countries that contain the most prolific illegal downloaders.

According to Reuters, the U.S. government is due to publish the latest list of copyright violating countries this month. The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a copyright lobbying group, recently released a report (.pdf) which suggested that Spain once again be placed on a priority watch list for both illegal downloads and the trade of copyright-infringing goods, even though the country was removed from last year's list.

Other counties the IIPA believes need watching are Ukraine, China, Chile, India and Russia.

If a country is placed on the U.S. government's naughty list, then trade sanctions -- and restrictions thereof -- may be used to try and make the countries in question impose tougher laws to try and combat piracy. (The illegal downloader is an unknown species in the United States, of course).

In an interview with the publication, Wert said that he believed "this reform should satisfy those who are worried about Spain's insufficient level of protection for intellectual property." However, in a culture where piracy is widely accepted, trying to promote businesses based on subscriptions for movies and music would not be an easy task.

Currently, piracy laws in Spain mean that copyright holders have to lodge complaints against websites offering illegal downloads with the government itself, which has resulted in a slow and complicated process when attempting to have services taken offline. Instead, the new draft bill will go directly after "linking" sites that light the way for downloaders to find content -- think The Pirate Bay or IsoHunt. These websites potentially will be taken offline and have online payment services barred. Businesses that choose to advertise on copyright-infringing websites can be issued fines under the draft legislation.

The bill is currently receiving public feedback, before being redrafted and sent back to parliament for debate. However, Wert believes the legislation will be adopted before the end of 2013.

Image credit: Darlyn Perez

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