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'Piracy' web sites are legal in Spain

Ruling says linking to copyrighted material is not against the law
Fri Jul 15 2011, 12:40

SO-CALLED 'PIRACY' WEB SITES are apparently legal in Spain, according to the latest ruling by a Spanish court regarding copyright infringement.

The ruling relates to two lawsuits filed in 2009 by music rights group Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), which sued the owner of file linking web site Elrincondejesus.com, Jesus Guerra.

According to Torrentfreak, Judge Paul García Orejudo ruled that web sites that link to copyrighted material are not illegal under Spanish law, unlike in neighbouring France, although web sites that actually host such files are illegal.

However, SGAE appealed the case in the Provincial Court of Barcelona, which resulted in a fine for Guerra of €3,587, primarily because his web site linked directly to files uploaded on file hosting services like Megaupload and Rapidshare, which the court saw as much different than normal peer-to-peer files like torrents.

SGAE sued another web site called index-web.com, which ended with the same initial court ruling and another appeal in the Provincial Court of Barcelona. Despite being an almost identical case to that of Elrincondejesus.com, SGAE failed to win that appeal this week.

Lawyers for the case said that this was the first final ruling that such web sites are legal in Spain and that it creates a legal precedent for future cases. This means we could see a lot of people moving their web sites to Spanish hosts to avoid prosecution.

This is a major blow to the music and film cartels and a significant victory for the filesharing community, which has been under attack in several countries. A large number of web sites that link to copyrighted material have been seized and shut down as part of a US operation called In Our Sites.

The problem for the Spanish web sites is that European Union laws could be used to shut then down, new laws could be passed in Spain to make them illegal, or Operation In Our Sites could make national laws meaningless, since the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency believes it has the power to seize any .com or .net domain. µ

 

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