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Dangerous Anti-sharing Law in Spain

The Spanish government just announced a new bill that would grant an administrative body –the Commission for Intellectual Property– the power to order the take down or blocking of websites that “allow or facilitate” copyright infringements. Even more dangerous for civil liberties and freedom of expression, the Commission would be allowed to determine on its own whether judicial intervention is necessary.

This announcement comes after European Commissioner Viviane Reding last week warned Spain against its plan aimed at tackling file-sharing. "Repression alone will certainly not solve the problem of internet piracy; it may in many ways even run counter to the rights and freedoms which are part of Europe's values since the French Revolution", Mrs Reding said.

The Commissioner outlined that Spain's bill could run counter to the provision recently adopted by European lawmakers in the "Telecoms Package", which provides that:
Measures taken by Member States regarding end-users' access to or use of services and applications through electronic communications networks shall respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and general principles of Community law.1

Echoing the Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge written during the Free Culture Forum in Barcelona, a vast spontaneous movement of journalists, bloggers, professionals and creators have written a manifesto in which they oppose the Government's will to restrict the freedoms of expression, information and access to culture on the Internet:

1 . Copyright should not be placed above citizens' fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression.

2 . Suspension of fundamental rights is and must remain an exclusive competence of judges. This blueprint, contrary to the provisions of Article 20.5 of the Spanish Constitution, places in the hands of the executive the power to keep Spanish citizens from accessing certain websites.

3 . The proposed laws would create legal uncertainty across Spanish IT companies, damaging one of the few areas of development and future of our economy, hindering the creation of startups, introducing barriers to competition and slowing down its international projection.

4 . The proposed laws threaten creativity and hinder cultural development. The Internet and new technologies have democratized the creation and publication of all types of content, which no longer depends on an old small industry but on multiple and different sources.

5 . Authors, like all workers, are entitled to live out of their creative ideas, business models and activities linked to their creations. Trying to hold an obsolete industry with legislative changes is neither fair nor realistic. If their business model was based on controlling copies of any creation and this is not possible any more on the Internet, they should look for a new business model.

6 . We believe that cultural industries need modern, effective, credible and affordable alternatives to survive. They also need to adapt to new social practices.

7 . The Internet should be free and not have any interference from groups that seek to perpetuate obsolete business models and stop the free flow of human knowledge.

8 . We ask the Government to guarantee net neutrality in Spain, as it will act as a framework in which a sustainable economy may develop.

9 . We propose a real reform of intellectual property rights in order to ensure a society of knowledge, promote the public domain and limit abuses from copyright organizations.

10 . In a democracy, laws and their amendments should only be adopted after a timely public debate and consultation with all involved parties. Legislative changes affecting fundamental rights can only be made in a Constitutional law.

La Quadrature du Net supports Spanish citizens and urges them to use all means of action and expression to counter this legislation that might dangerously harm their fundamental freedoms.

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