Spain discusses shutting down websites without court order

By EDRi · December 16, 2009

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Deutsch: [Spanien berät über die Schließung von Webseiten ohne richterliche Verfügungen|]

Despite the recent statements of Spanish culture Minister Angeles
Gonzalez-Sinde and the warnings received from Commissioner Reding, the
Spanish Government announced at the beginning of December 2009 a proposal
that may lead to shutting down websites that offer P2P file sharing of music
and films, without the necessity of a court order.

The draft law for Sustainable Economy that may come into force in 2010, if
approved by the Parliament, includes a modification that introduces an
Intellectual Property Commission which will have the power to shut down web
sites considered as illegally sharing cultural copyrighted content.

The proposal has brought forth the vivid reaction of Internet users, media
representatives, bloggers, professionals and creators. The meeting that took
place on 3 December between the representatives of opponents to the draft
law and Sinde did not succeed in getting any results due to the large
differences of opinions.

Sinde continues to state that the proposed legislation will not target
individual Internet users who download material but web sites that illegally
offer the possibility of downloading copyrighted works and that in no case
would anyone’s Internet connection be cut off. Prime Minister Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero also stated the proposed legislation would not threaten
the freedom of expression and that it was not the intention of the
government to close down web sites.

According to the bill, the Intellectual Property Commission will have the
power to investigate complaints about Web sites offering the possibility of
P2P downloading and, in case it considers the respective websites make money
from other people’s work, it may close them down. In order to find the sites
that infringe the law, the Commission may ask ISPs for the data they deem
necessary to identify the respective web sites and the ISPs will be obliged
to provide this information. Once the infringement considered proven, the
Commission will send warnings to the alleged infringers in order to cease
the downloading activity. And finally, if the web sites do not comply, the
Commission may require the blocking of the sites or the removal of the
illegally shared content.

The opponents of the bill accuse the Spanish Government of trying to create
a “Culture Police”. “The page with most links to copyright-protected
content is Google. Are we going to close Google without a judicial order?”
asked Victor Domingo, president of the Spanish Association of Internet

Despite the Prime Minister’s statement that web sites will not be
shut down without a court order and that the law will not address the
private individuals, several experts and legal advisers show that the draft
law contradicts him. In their opinion, the text of the draft law is
ambiguous, leaving very much room for interpretation. It also obliges the
Internet service operators to reveal information on their users that may
lead to blocking Internet connections or to finding out the entire one-year
downloading history of a user.

The large number of opponents have spontaneously created a manifesto against
the propose legislation which says amongst another things that “copyright
should not be placed above citizens’ fundamental rights to privacy,
security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and
freedom of expression” and that “the Internet must function freely and
without political interference spurred by interested sectors trying to
perpetuate an obsolete business model and to prevent human knowledge from
continuing to be free.”

For the present, in Spain, downloading copyrighted material, although
illegal, it is not a criminal offence and the courts consider the law is
infringed only when the downloading is done for commercial profit.

Proposal of Web shutdown power angers Spanish Internet users (3.12.2009)

Dangerous Anti-sharing Law in Spain (3.12.2009)

The cultural “police” of the Internet will be born (only in Spanish,

The anti-downloading law revives the confrontation between the cultural
industry and the Internet community (only in Spanish, 2.12.2009)

The manifest “In the defence of the fundamental rights on the Internet”(in
Spanish, 2.12.2009)

We don’t believe Zapatero (only in Spanish, 12.12.2009)

EDRi-gram: Spain warned by Commissioner Reding for cutting off Internet
access (2.12.2009)