Spain nixes anti-piracy regs

Film industry reacts with fury

MADRID — Spain’s parliament has thrown out long-awaited anti-piracy legislation — prompting a furious reaction from its local film industry.

Shoe-horned into a wide-ranging Sustainable Economy Bill, Spain’s anti-piracy regs represent the first major move by a Spanish government to crack down on piracy.

But, after an eight-hour delay in final resolution Tuesday night, they were rejected by a Congress Parliamentary Economy and Tax Commission by a narrow margin of 20 votes to 18. Spain’s ruling PSOE socialists needed the support of other parties to force the regs through. That was not forthcoming.

Spain’s film industry has reacted with fury at what it sees as the cowardice of Spain’s political classes, more concerned about attracting Spain’s youth vote than protecting IP rights.

The Sinde Law debacle was an act of “direct aggression which curtails (Spain’s) rule of law,” producer Agustin Almodovar wrote in El Pais. It would force him to postpone the premiere of Pedro Almodovar’s “La piel que habito” to the fall and day-and-date its release worldwide, he added.

“We are an anomaly in Europe,” said director Manuel Gutierrez Aragon.

For novelist Javier Marias, “Spain’s parliamentarians fear delinquents. What’s worse, they don’t fear being murdered by delinquents, like in Mexico, but simply that the delinquents won’t vote for them.”

The draft law creates an Intellectual Property Commission, run by Spain’s Ministry of Culture. It is empowered to recommend the blocking or closure of websites that facilitate unauthorized movie and music downloads for commercial gain. Websites would be shuttered after a court hearing.

The anti-piracy regs have already caused a storm in Spain.

For some critics, they effectively decriminalize piracy, waiving action against non-profit unauthorized peer-to-peer usage by end users.

For others, the Sinde Law does not clarify sufficiently whether citizens’ access to Internet services is really denied by Spain’s judiciary rather than a state agency.

In France last June, a Constitutional Court overturned Nicolas Sarkozy first version of his Creation and Internet Law that allowed a Hadopi state agency to sanction offenders.

The Sinde Law doesn’t “safeguard judges’ intervention,” the PP’s Jose Maria Lasalle charged Tuesday.

The only chances the PSOE now have to save its first anti-piracy legislation is to renegotiate the regs or for their approval by Spain’s Senate, where the PSOE’s minority is even smaller than in the Congress.

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