Spanish Government Tables Law to Fight Illegal Downloads

The unpopular Sinde Law will be passed on to the incoming center-right government led by the Popular Party.

MADRID -- Despite two legislatures marked by public debate on how to combat Spain's rampant piracy and a culture minister who hailed from the film industry and staked her reputation on passing a controversial law to combat illegal downloads, Spain's Socialist Party looks set leave office later this month without enacting the so-called Sinde Law.

Friday's cabinet meeting -- the penultimate before the center-right Popular Party takes over after a landslide victory Nov. 20 -- saw the government table the Law for Economic Sustainability, popularly known as the Sinde Law for Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde.

"It was part of the agenda, although in the end it was not approved and has been tabled," government spokesman Jose Blanco said after Friday's cabinet meeting.

The Sinde Law was approved by the parliament in March and was later sent the cabinet in October for final approval.

The law, which enables a judge to order a website offering illegal content shutdown within 10 days upon the recommendation of an administrative committee, has the support of the Popular Party, though it is widely disliked by Internet users and consumer rights groups.

General consensus with analysts suggests the Socialist Party decided to pass the measure and its public relations headache to the next government and let them take the heat.

The Spanish government reached a deal with the main opposition party in January to pass the anti-download law in a watered down version from its original, provoking the frustration and indignation of Spanish filmmakers. Then Spanish Film Academy president Alex de la Iglesia’s resigned his post the next day -- after energetically negotiating with government and Internet users to reach an agreement for solid anti-piracy legislation -- saying it would have been better to "start from zero" than pass the diluted legislation.