Spain Passes Anti-Download Law to Fight Piracy

The legislation, which calls for the closing of websites offering illegal content, was passed in the newly-elected government's first cluster of economic measures at Friday's cabinet meeting.

MADRID -- Spain's newly installed center-right government wasted no time in passing the so-called anti-download law Friday, marking a new strategy in combating rampant piracy plaguing the sector.

After two legislatures of sputtering progression, the Law of Economic Sustainability was passed by the government in its second cabinet meeting since taking office Dec. 22.

"I think it is a quite a gesture that it has passed so quickly. And very positive," said Spanish Film Academy President and veteran distributor of Alta Films Enrique Gonzalez Macho. "If it wasn't approved until now it's because it was because they didn't want to."

The  law is designed to "protect the owners, creators and other rights holders rights against the profitable sacking of their assets on illegal downloading websites," government spokesperson Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said. "Spain joins the international standard in the fight against piracy."

Saenz de Santamaria said a commission of intellectual property would decide whether to shutter a website violating the law.

It's noteworthy that the center-right Popular Party (PP) resolved the problem of the infamous Sinde Law, named for the Socialist Culture Minister who left office last week and staked her reputation on the anti-piracy measures, but met with energetic resistance from Internet consumer groups.

"The adopted measure should be understood within the absolute normality of a democracy," Producers Federation President Pedro Perez said. "What is strange is strange is that the PP green lit what the Socialists had thought of and didn't dare to approve."

But not all voiced approval.

"It's a big mistake," writer Juan Gomez-Jurado told the Spanish daily El Mundo. "This government missed an excellent opportunity to rethink a measure that provoked tremendous social rejection."

The government also eliminated a controversial measure called the digital canon, that taxed all electronics, CDs, DVDs, MP3, MP4, etc to cover the costs of anticipated private copy and pay for authors' rights. Critics argued that its unconstitutionality in addition to claiming it confused the public into thinking it was acceptable to download illegally since they had paid a tax.