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Friday, October 28, 2011

Spanish File-Sharing Operators Sentenced To Jail

A couple of Spanish file-sharing services, FenixP2P.com and MP3-es.com, didn’t differ from any of the file-sharing services out there. In other words, they didn’t host copyrighted material, but only offered links to it. Although it was considered very unlikely that the operators of these websites would get into trouble (since the country’s courts usually exonerated defendants operating on such portals), for some reason the Provincial Court of Vizcaya changed its mind and sentenced the site admins to one year jail time, plus fines.

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The admins were sent to jail thanks to an appeal filed by the country’s Association of Distributors and Publishers of Entertainment Software after the defendants were initially acquitted. The local court confirmed that none of the above mentioned online locations hosted infringing content. However, the judge pointed out that the services have been looking for financial gain via advertising. The operators were unlucky – the Court of Vizcaya took a decision that their actions represented more of an act of “communicating to the public” than just an exchange between people.

The lawyer of one of the file-sharing services called the court’s decision a political statement, saying that their service was just a P2P links website, which has been declared by all courts exempt from criminal liability over the last years. Considering the overall atmosphere in Spain after the online campaign against the Sinde Law, one can only understand such statement in political terms. The court, they said, didn’t hear directly neither from experts or witnesses, which actually violates the principles of contradiction and immediacy. The file-sharing services are going to file an appeal to the Constitutional Court and further to the European Court of Human Rights.

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