After becoming known as somewhat of a haven for both file-sharing sites and their users, Spain is preparing to crack down on breaches of intellectual property rights. In a blueprint published by the government, sites said to infringe copyright on a
large-scale face fines of up to 300,000 euros and having their payment processors and advertisers removed. P2P downloads will also be outlawed by limiting the right to private copy.
In January 2012 it was revealed that the United States, tired
with Spain's apparent lack of protection for intellectual property, had threatened to put the European country on a trade blacklist.
During a press conference Culture Minister Jose' Ignacio Wert said that the reforms have three objectives.
- The first is to ensure that content rights management entities operate with greater transparency than they did in the past, with fines being levied if irregularities are found.
- The second objective is to crack down on those who
facilitate large-scale downloading of movies, music, TV shows and other cultural content.
- Finally there is to be a review of the right to make private copies, for which rightsholders are currently compensated through a levy on blank
Sites will be required to remove wide ranges of infringing content on request, such as that from a particular rightsholder or artist, without having to deal with each instance individually as is the case today. Failure to comply will be costly, with
penalties of up to 300,000 euros ($388,400) for sites that repeatedly fail to remove illicit content.
Culture Minister Wert went on to clarify that search engines such as Google, that may unwittingly link to content but comply with takedown
requests, would be exempt.
Further augmenting the tools available, the draft sees the Copyright Commission being empowered to force companies to remove their advertising from illicit sites. In line with moves already underway in the United States
and elsewhere in Europe, payment processors will also be forced to withdraw their services.
Currently Internet users aren't prosecuted since their downloads are covered by a levy on blank media, but the draft envisions these freedoms being removed
-- and then some. The reforms see the right to private copying only covering legally obtained media, meaning that in theory file-sharers could be prosecuted for their downloads from unauthorized sources.