Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Spanish Internet Inquisition Pokes with IP Cushions

Last Friday the Spanish government approved an anti-piracy plan of the Ministry of Culture that, amongst others, seeks
  • the formation of specialized public prosecutors and judicial experts to make fast judgments against intellectual property crimes
  • the creation of specific Internet anti-piracy police units
  • the creation of a working group "to detect and to remove illicit content on the Internet"
The working groups would be made up by authors rights organisations and internet providers, and might bring intellectual property censorship to the internet. Apparently the anti-piracy plan wants these groups to oversee the data stream on the net and police it for infringing content. This would be another example of the enforcement of public policies by private parties, thus curbing around the constitutional protections that dominate the state-citizen relationship. However, from the reporting it is yet unclear to me if this Spanish Internet Inquisition will actually poke with some hard cushions, and how they would think to realize this.

Internet user groups and consumer organisations are upset by the anti-piracy plan, and that they were not invited to participate in its drafting. These same groups are coming to arms against the extension of levies on data carriers to compensate for private copying. At the end of this year there will be a revision of the Spanish intellectual property law, and the collective management organisation for authors rights, SGAE, has already called for putting a "canon" on harddisks, USB sticks, printers and even DSL connections.

The consumer organisations point out that it is inherently unfair to ask for an (extended) remuneration, while anti-copying measures (DRMs) are introduced that actually make this copying impossible. Some have started an anti-canon campaign:

One consumer organisation (FACUA) has put a petition online against both the anti-copying measures and the canon. It asks not to extent the application of levies and for the recognition of a private copying right
"in order to end the use of anti-copying systems in musical and audio-visual works, which are easily circumvented by the piracy Mafia, while they do no more than to limit the user's possibility to make copies of his CDs to enjoy them in MP3 players, for example." [translation mine-RL]
It looks like things are heating up in Spain. Little IP fires are burning all over Europe.
- - -
Heise article 1 + 2 [German]
Internautas website
SGAE website
Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition MP3 + text + MPEG


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