Last week, the IPKat published a guest post from Spanish IP enthusiast Míchel Olmedo Cuevas on how Spain spent its first month without the benefit of Google News's aggregation service. Tonight the Kats are pleased to post another guest piece from Michel on life in Spain in this testing period for copyright owners, legislators, consumers and internet service providers alike. This is what Michel writes:
Exodus 2.0: pirate sites and the seven seasFairly recently, English director Sir Ridley Scott delivered his most recent film to cinema screens worldwide under the title “Exodus: Gods & Kings”. This new re-imagination of the book of Exodus is the latest film to top the charts, both at the cinema and on pirate sites, which gives us a great motive to talk about the current situation of this kind of sites in Spain.The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), has been delivering for years the Special 301 Report, ranking countries by the extent to which they provide protection for intellectual property rights, taking into account many factors, one of which is how they tackle piracy (you can find the latest Special 301 Report here). Spain has been listed as a “Watchlist Country” consistently between 2008 and 2011, because Spanish law did not, according to US expectations, provide sufficient level of protection. Spain has been out of the list since the Parliment approved the “Ley de Economía Sostenible” (Sustainable Economy Act), also known as “Ley Sinde/Wert” (as those two were the ministers under whom the bill was drafted and passed, respectively). The relationship between this new Law and the Special 301 Report can be seen in the cables leaked by WikiLeaks, eg here and here.After this, even though new levels of protection were in place, the most relevant point, the provision of links to P2P networks, still was not treated as a criminal offence under Spanish law, as we can see in the famous cases of Sharemula (2008) and Pablo Soto (2014). Along similar lines, providing links to streaming pages was not considered illegal, even if those contents infringed intellectual property rights, as happened in Rojadirecta (2011).This has been the status quo in Spain until late last year, when Parliament passed its latest reform on the Intellectual Property Act 1/1996. This has drawn a lot of attention, mainly because of the so called “Google Tax”, that has been extensively reviewed, both in terms of the law and its consequences.The other major point of the reform is the position of those web pages that provide links to unlawful content. As of January 2015, all these pages would be liable for fines up to €600,000, as well as the closure of the site and removal of all infringing content (a more in-depth study can be found here).Frequent users of these pages did not have to wait long to see the results of these measures. While some pages like Series.ly simply decided to remove all infringing links and become just a themed social network, others have chosen to either close or to relocate in order to avoid being shut down like The Pirate Bay (despite this, the closure of TPB has not changed much, since their whole repository has been uploaded to a new page by Github, as well as their platform, which is now freely available with an open source licence for everyone who wishes to create a similar platform with its source code). Most of the pages that opted for relocation chose to do so in remote islands such as Sint Marteen (www.seriesyonkis.sx) or Tonga (www.seriespepito.to), known for their soft or non-existent intellectual property regulations and which derive huge profits from their gTLD domains (those two domains are also quite appealing for other obvious reasons…).In this situation, the most logical conclusion is that, despite the best intentions that were in the legislators’ hearts when passing the bill, the true nature of the internet was never taken into consideration, and the only real consequence was that all these pages had to relocate, while all the infringing content that the new law wanted to take down is still completely available for all users.
This is a further fresh example of the power of the internet and the need for unified international regulation on the net. As long as all sanctions remain local and penalties can only be imposed on the nationals of a state or on those who commit a crime in its sovereign soil, there is no real chance for a true worldwide copyright enforcement policy.