New legislation is set to take effect Feb. 29

Washington may have shelved two anti-piracy laws last month but Spain’s anti-piracy legislation is set to take effect Feb. 29. How those regs will play out is still a question that’s up in the air.

“Spain has taken a good step forward,” said Jean Prewitt, prexy-CEO of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) at Berlin. “The questions now will always be: Will the promise of the regulation be fulfilled? Does the timeline established by the new law address the industry’s needs effectively?”

As framed in the U.S.’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act, an Internet service provider can respond within a couple of hours to requests for infringing content to be removed from a site.

In Spain, content owners who feel their rights have been infringed must lodge a complaint via the government.

With the government as a middleman, Spain’s notice and take-down process can take almost two weeks, depending on whether the infringing file is voluntarily removed or disputed, said Susan Cleary, IFTA VP and general counsel.

That timeframe encompasses initial notice, take-down (both 48 hours at most), possible further assessment of copyright infringement, a possible ISP appeal (five days) and, in that case, final resolution (three days).

Almost two weeks is a very long time for potential pre-release piracy of a movie in Spain, Prewitt said.

Another question, she added, was whether the Spanish government will be able to commit the large resources necessary to really make a difference in its anti-piracy push.

The best solution for anti-piracy is the launch of sites offering rapid access to big firstrun films. Netflix had envisaged entering Spain, but has now delayed its plans.

“Until then, the question is how you compete with for-free (entertainment),” Cleary said.

“We’re certainly very enthusiastic that Spain now has something on its books,” Prewitt concluded. IFTA will monitor how Spain’s anti-piracy push plays out.

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