The Sinde Law, named after Spain’s culture minister, is a new anti-piracy law similar to SOPA that the country has just passed. This law will force ISPs to block web sites that a new government body, called the Intellectual Property Commission, has decided to infringe on copyrights.
Rights holders are able to contact the Intellectual Property Commission with a list of web sites that infringe on their copyrights. After this point, the Commission will attempt to reach a decision of yes or no within ten days.
If a web site is found to be infringing, the Commission passes the case to a judge who rules whether or not it should be shut down.
Due to its questionable nature, the legislature has been divisive. Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told the BBC that the aim of the law was “to safeguard intellectual property, boost our culture industries and protect the rights of owners, creators and others in the face of the lucrative plundering of illegal downloading sites.”
However, others disagree, and many types of professional people from the tech world have staged a series of protests in opposition. The head of the Spanish Film Academy actually quit his position in protest of the law. Additionally, the UK’s Open Rights Group’s Peter Bradwell had this to say on the matter:
This is another example of bad copyright law eating away at the safeguards around freedom of expression. The same overblown demands to pare down proper legal processes are being made to the government here in the UK. Our policy makers must not throw away the keys to the internet simply because copyright lobbyists are quite good at complaining.
The major push for this legislature in Spain comes from U.S. pressure caused by various reports labeling Spain as one of the worst countries for piracy. Of these reports, one of them claimed that 97.7% of all music consumption in the country was in fact pirated in the first six months of 2010, as well as 75% of all movie downloads and 60.7% of all game downloads. This allegedly cost copyright holders 5.2 billion euros ($6.8 billion).
Analysis: Wow, I thought it was pretty awful that a thing like SOPA was even being considered in the U.S., but something like this actually passed in Spain? Yikes. I guess we know now that the law wasn’t dead. This looks to be a grim time to be a proponent of free speech and an Internet user. Peter Bradwell said it best: these pieces of legislature are simply the beginning to a process of destroying the safeguards protecting free speech on the Internet. They’re making it legal to trifle with blocking web sites at both the source and the end user, bringing us much closer to full-blown Internet censorship. Making these things legal makes it much easier for the wrong people to find themselves in power and poised to abuse these methods.
I’m not surprised, however, to find that U.S. pressure is behind this passing. I find it disgusting that my own country would pressure another state into giving up protections on their freedoms. The corporate-led greed of our government seems to know no bounds. I sincerely hope that this law passing in Spain doesn’t provide fuel for SOPA in the form of, “See? They passed one, too!” If it does, SOPA’s a done deal and we’re really in for a ride.