Spain takes steps to tackle piracy

'Accepted' illegal downloading challenged

For the first time ever, Spain — included last year in the MPAA’s list of countries most affected by piracy, and where piracy is an accepted social practice — is poised to challenge unauthorized P2P downloads.

Spain’s government has forced negotiations between telco lobby Redtel and the Coalition of Creators and Contents Industry, comprising most of Spain’s film and TV trade orgs, in an effort to generate effective measures against illegal downloading.

Spain is tops in Western Europe in online downloads.

Spain’s Socialist government also faces a dilemma: While it recognizes its obligation to protect culture industries that represent 3% of Spain’s GDP and employ more than 1 million people, peer-to-peer file sharing has increased broadband use in Spain — it now runs at 50% of Spanish homes.

“As broadband matures in Spain, telcos will need to enter into the content business. Piracy will also affect them in the midterm,” argues Sydney Borjas, of rights collection entity SGAE.

One issue affecting Spain’s coalition-Redtel negotiations is occurring in France, where the Sarkozy government’s three-strikes-and-you’re-out antipiracy bill is making its way through parliament.

The coalition supports the initiative; Spain’s telcos do not.

Prexy Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has one more political reason to strengthen the fight against piracy: After five years of disagreements with the Bush administration, Zapatero needs to nurture ties with President Obama. And the upcoming visit to Spain of Vice President Joe Biden would be a chance to present some advances in the antipiracy battle.