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Spanish Government Destroys P2P and Basic Freedoms

Illustration for article titled Spanish Government Destroys P2P and Basic Freedoms

The Government of Spain, one of the last bastions of legal peer-to-peer file sharing, has approved a law that'll obliterate some of the most basic human rights, like freedom of speech and due process. All in the name of money.


There's a whole bunch of greedy "artists"—represented by the SGAE, the Spanish version of the RIAA, and some cinema associations—who most of the times are used by the Spanish socialist government to support their political agenda. I say greedy because, in Spain, there's an "artist tax" on everything that can be used to record something. You buy a CD to do data backup at work? Doesn't matter, the government's friends assume you are a thief copying stuff, and charge you an extra for it. Maybe you want a new camera to record your newborn baby? Well, that's more expensive too because of the "artistic" tax. Want an iPod? Pay extra. A DVD-R unit? Give them more money.

Their argument for that tax was that, since people were pirating music and movies using the internet, the artistic associations should get a cut of all media and gadgets that could be used to copy music and movies. I can argue that I don't give a rat's ass about the mostly lousy music produced in Spain, not to talk about their craptastic movies, but it's ok. Let's say that I accept that premise and gladly pay the extra, even while it destroys the presumption of innocence. P2P was legal in Spain—and still is—and everyone was happy.


Everyone but them. They wanted more, and they got it as an obvious favor, returned by the socialist government now in power. After passing the law hidden in another law, the artist associations can now close any web site they want, without a court order. They only have to argue that the site may be used to share media, and the Minister of Culture will have to the power to close the site without any judge giving the go ahead, a true "Cultural Police." Goodbye democracy, hello National Socialism. What's more, they also want to be able to close the Internet connection of any user who uses the internet for P2P sharing, also without any due process.

This leaves everyone without any defense. The artists associations and the Minister of Culture can shut down a business that can be perfectly legal, without having to answer to anyone. Just because they say so. Or they can close the internet connection of someone who wasn't doing anything wrong. All without confronting any judge with any solid evidence. This means that the business or user would have to go to court to defend themselves after the damage is done, something that requires money.

In other words, no due process, no presumption of innocence, just shutting down web sites because someone with no judicial power says so.

They want to get their money from the artist tax and destroy P2P at the same time, demolishing some Spanish Constitutional rights in the process. Needless to say, this has originated a huge response by Internet users, Human Rights activists, journalists, and bloggers, who have signed a manifesto against it. Also needless to say, nobody in the government will do anything about it, which is one of the reasons why I don't live in my home country anymore. [MuyComputerGoogle Translation]


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The Euro area in general has very strong union and trade group lobbies. Well we in America tend to assume their governments are less intrusive than ours after the Patriot Act, their labor groups are exceptionally skilled at arm-twisting the government to get them whatever they want, no matter how damaging it is to individual rights.