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File Sharing Ruled Legal In Spain 136

Posted by Zonk
from the for-about-five-minutes dept.
stupid_is writes "As a follow-up to a previous discussion a judge in Spain has ruled that under Spanish law a person who downloads music for personal use can not be punished or branded a criminal. This seems to be a teeny bit clearer than the first article, which points out that downloading is a civil, and not criminal, offense for individuals. The Spanish recording industry federation Promusicae is predictably a bit peeved, and says it will appeal against the decision." From the article: "The state prosecutor's office and two music distribution associations had sought a two year sentence against the man, who downloaded songs and then allegedly offered them on a CD through email and chat rooms. However, there was no direct proof he made money from selling the CDs. Justice Minister Juan Fernando Lopéz Aguilar says Spain is drafting a new law to abolish the existing right to private copies of material. Due to different regulatory regimes in Europe, the proceedings against file sharers differ greatly in each country. However, most European judges tend to take a harder stance on file sharing. Twenty two people in Finland were fined €427,000 last week for illegally sharing movies, music, games and software, while courts in Sweden also fined two men who had downloaded movies and music for personal use."
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File Sharing Ruled Legal In Spain

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  • by Fastolfe (1470) on Friday November 03, 2006 @11:04AM (#16702879)
    Everyone also needs to keep in mind that in most countries where these things are issues, the offenses related to downloading things versus sharing them are completely different. I don't believe anybody even in the US has been taken to court merely for downloading. It's always about sharing (redistribution). It's frustrating when the media tends to use the two things interchangeably.
    • by Veetox (931340)
      I know! Just look at Lars Ulrich (anti-music-sharing posterboy)... He looks so... frustrated.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Detective: This is the home of Lars Ulrich, the drummer for Metallica. Look. There's Lars now, sitting by his pool.

        Kyle: What's the matter with him?

        Detective: This month he was hoping to have a gold-plated shark tank bar installed right next to the pool, but thanks to people downloading his music for free, he must now wait a few months before he can afford it. Come. There's more. Here's Britney Spears' private jet. Notice anything? Britney used to have a Gulfstream IV. Now she's had to sell it and get a Gul
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by giorgiofr (887762)
      Nobody downloads mp3 via http from pimply-faced youths anymore. People get music on eMule and movies on BitTorrent. So, everytime you're downloading, you're uploading as well.
      • There is a difference between sharing bits of a file while downloading the file, and seeding a file when you have 100% of it. Nobody in the US has been nailed for uploading while downloading using Bittorrent as of yet - only people hosting 100% of the files for uploading...Just becuase you are downloading does not mean you are a seeder.
      • *cough*USENET*cough*
        • by Zemran (3101)
          Ssssssssshhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! Don't tell anybody. There is a nice quiet world out there that we would like to keep clean.
      • Nobody downloads mp3 via http from pimply-faced youths anymore.

        No, we download from AllOfMp3. No uploading, no sharing, just good access to quality music. I keep waiting for the RIAA to pick up the model. Guess it's not happening...

      • by Kandenshi (832555)
        I ... "have a friend" who downloads(primarily as a leech) from IRC channels.
        Any of the uploading "my friend" does over IRC is to actual people he chats to. Not to the random unwashed members of the mob in #mp3passion.
      • by Deagol (323173)
        Unless you disable uploads on your client. Then you can download a torrent without allowing the risk of being nailed with sharing.
      • by Mike89 (1006497)
        People get music on eMule..
        I find people more often use Limewire, which does not require uploading. That includes myself. I have like 300 gb of stuff shared on there, and yet no-one ever touches it. Same for my friends, no one ever uploads off them.. unless they share their porn ;)
        • A good open-source client that you can get off SourceForge is Phex. Limewire-like GUI (better in some ways) and you can also disable any sharing activity.
    • FTFA

      ..while courts in Sweden also fined two men who had downloaded movies and music for personal use.

      I know you said "most", but people shouldn't think that by "just downloading" copyrighted material they won't get in trouble.
      Also FTFA

      Over 100 students at Växjö University, southern Sweden, have been banned from using the institution's network in the past two years because they downloaded copyrighted material without permission in their apartments on the university campus.

      While their pun

      • I thought y'all wanted to live in Sweden [slashdot.org].
      • by Pofy (471469)
        >FTFA ..
        >>while courts in Sweden also fined two men who had downloaded movies and music for personal use.

        >I know you said "most", but people shouldn't think that by "just downloading" copyrighted material they won't get in trouble.

        The article is wrong though since both of them was charged for uploading (or sharing works to the public, not for downloading.

        >Also FTFA
        >> Over 100 students at Växjö University, southern Sweden, have been banned from using the institution's network i
    • Two years in prison for copying a few files. Sheesh.

      Still, they're working hard to change the laws. What they want now is for downloading to be illegal, AND for a tax to be placed on all recordable media. If they manage to pass it then I'll be paying the RIAA for all the CDs I use for data backups, all the CDs which end up as coasters because I dared to touch the mouse while it was recording, etc.

      • all the CDs which end up as coasters because I dared to touch the mouse while it was recording, etc.

        how old is that burner that you don't have buffer-underrun protection? i haven't had a coater in 5 years due to a buffer underrun (liteon 482448s burner), though i have had a couple due to other factors such as the power browning/blacking out at bad times (i need to get a UPS) or the burning software crashing or whatever.
    • We know the hive mind that is /. can't grok the difference between copyright, trademark, and patents, but I'd think the difference between uploading and downloading wouldn't be out of reach.

      Oh well.

      And before you reply, "but BitTorrent...," two points: 1) are there any torrent clients that do not allow the user to control uploading? And 2) if there are, so?

      In the words of the parent poster, "Downloading != Sharing"
      • by pipatron (966506)
        The thing with bittorrent is that it's up to the 'server' user to decide how much bandwidth he will donate to you. If the members of the torrent notice that you don't give back anything, your bandwidth will get throttled. Of course, for very popular torrents with a lot of seeders you will get a good bandwidth anyway, but with more rare files, you will have to give something back unless you want to wait for days to download the file.
    • I don't know the US legal system but from what I understood, every law transgression is 'criminal'. In most EU states, the 'criminal' label describes only the most serious violation. There are less serious violation, not called 'crimes' (I think you would translate it by 'offense') that are still illegal but the difference IIRC correctly is that you cannot be sentenced to jail for an offense.
      • by growse (928427)

        Rubbish.

        Some offences are criminal offences and others are civil offences. In the UK at least, they are tried in completely separate courts. You cannot be arrested by the police, or prosecuted by the crown for a civil offence. Examples of civil offences are: Copyright infringement, libel, trespass. All that can happen is that the person who has the complaint can sue you in a civil court.

        Not to mention that the methodology behind coming to a verdict is completely different in a criminal and civil court. In

        • by GigsVT (208848)
          It's basically the same in the US. We stole most of the ideas from your court system anyway.
      • Until the cost of the action is >$5k does it become a criminal case (or some physical, etc crime against an individual, others, and so on), prior to that it's a misdemeanor, or possibly a civil case (depending upon the circumstances). Also it depends upon what you claim as "jail", I'm sure that in most EU states if you are a drunken beligerent "football hooligan" you can goto jail to cool off and other such stupditiy, but I think that you were really meaning more like what we would meant to be sentences
      • by MrNougat (927651)
        IANAL.

        No, the US legal system has criminal and civil courts as well. Remember OJ Simpson? He was found not guilty at the criminal trial, and required to pay damages of some large amount at the civil trial. The main difference is that criminal cases must be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt." Civil cases are decided on a "preponderance of evidence," which is much less stringent a requirement.
      • by Fastolfe (1470)
        In the US, copyright infringement is entirely a civil tort. Meaning it's not "illegal" (it breaks no laws), but it does infringe on someone's rights, so you can be tried in the civil court system and be required to pay damages.

        There are some laws on the books, however, for certain extreme cases of copyright infringement, where you're doing some wholesale reselling of copyrighted works and the like, and you can be fined/imprisoned for that. The DMCA also makes certain infringement-related activities like c
    • by mark-t (151149)

      Actually, the real issue with is copying... not distributing.

      But if personal use copying isn't considered an infraction, then copying won't land you in trouble unless you do something more with it that wouldn't qualify as such use, such as distribute it or share it. But in reality the real issue with copyright is always about _copying_.

      This is why it's not an infraction to share your own physical music CD's that you've purchased... because what you are loaning aren't copies that you ever made in the

    • by Tweekster (949766)
      What someone needs to develop is a country based p2p.

      Ie, you dont share to anyone inside your country, then you will be fine. you download from outside of your country, you share to anyone not in your country, suddenly the international laws regarding the suits would be 10 times more complicated and basically impossible to try.
      • by Fastolfe (1470)
        This probably wouldn't work as well as you would like.

        For starters, if the infringing activity is a crime in your country, it's your country's law enforcement that prosecutes you. All it would take is someone pointing out what you're doing.

        But ignoring that, many of the major sue-happy copyright holders have versions of themselves in lots of countries, so you might deter them a little bit (or maybe a lot), but not entirely. This approach would, however, deter most or all of the suits from smaller copyrigh
  • by Abreu (173023)
    It seems that he managed to dodge the Music Industry bull charging right into him, with a quick waist movement and a flourish of his red cape...
  • Comparison invalid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ruppel (82583) on Friday November 03, 2006 @11:19AM (#16703045)
    The comparison with Finland is invalid since the sentence was given for filesharing and not for downloading files. Untill recently the legislation in finland was as clear about downloads (i.e. they were legal). Now we have the new european version of the DMCA and there haven't been any cases to test whether that status has changed. Since the legislation is essentially (supposed to be) the same throughout europe, I would guess that simply downloading stuff is still legal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      They weren't even found guilty of filesharing: The court threw the copyright infringement charge out becuase there was no proof. They were convicted of "contribution to copyright infringement" (administering the website). This fact was pretty much forgotten by the media, they just put "Filesharers convicted - 400 000 bill" as the title of their news story...

      "contribution to copyright infringement" -- well, I guess the Youtube guys are lucky not to live in Finland.
  • by Otter (3800)
    This seems to be a teeny bit clearer than the first article, which points out that downloading is a civil, and not criminal, offense for individuals.

    I am completely confused:

    1) The first article doesn't say that.

    2) The second article sort of *does* say that.

    3) Assuming that file sharing really has been ruled a civil but not criminal offense, the "Ruled Legal" headline via the dimwitted Register, plagiarizing submitter and sleepy editor is completely false.

  • Twenty two people in Finland were fined 427,000 last week for illegally sharing movies, music, games and software...

    Er, 427,000 what exactly?
    Or perhaps 427,000 people were fined twenty two of something?
    Jeez, color me confused...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Penguuu (263703)
      There were 21 persons who are paying in all that 427000 EUR. So it's about 20 000 EUR per person.

      And the persons who were sentenced were administrators of the torrent-sharing site, not some guys who just downloaded some songs.
    • by pioni (694427)
      427000 euros, or $542000. Quite similar to what you'd get for murdering 15-50 people or raping 100 women and children (except the prison sentence of about 10-15 years). So, kill and rape all you want but don't make copies of 0's and 1's...
      • Really? There are only monetary punishments for rape and murder where you live?? What country are you from that capital crimes are merely civil cases involving fines?
        • by pioni (694427)
          "except the prison sentence of about 10-15 years", meaning that on top of your average prison sentence of 12 years (or "life") for murder, you'd have to pay maybe 20000-30000 e in case you have money. If you don't, the 12 years will do. And they have holidays from prison!
    • by makomk (752139)
      Slashdot strips the Euro sign from comments... go figure.
  • by weeboo0104 (644849) on Friday November 03, 2006 @11:34AM (#16703217) Journal
    The Spanish recording industry federation Promusicae is predictably a bit peeved, and says it will appeal against the decision."

    I don't know what they expect by filing an appeal.
    I mean, nobody expects a Spanish inquisition.

    Someone fetch the Promusicae the comfy chair or some soft cushions.
  • All the bullfighting ballads you can download, for free!
  • by kinocho (978177) on Friday November 03, 2006 @11:43AM (#16703345)
    Is that in spain there is "law" that allow the sgae and company (RIAA equivalent in here) to tax the cd's and dvd's with more than one euro each (in the case of dvd's), to "compensate" for loses due to piracy.

    Just so you can understand better... last year they got 300 million euros just in that concept. And believe me, you can bribe a lot of people with that.

    Oh, I almost forgot, that money is shared unequally among the capos of the SGAE, leaving all the other 80.000 members with nothing.

  • by jezor (51922) on Friday November 03, 2006 @11:47AM (#16703395) Homepage
    I agree with the person who posted that downloading and uploading are very different potential offenses; consider the difference between drug use and drug sales (or distribution). Another point to consider is that the law in Spain may not consider copyright infringement criminal if no money is earned. This used to be the situation in the U.S., which is why an MIT student named David LaMacchia was found not guilty of wire fraud in 1994 [greenspun.com]. At that time, even massive distribution of copyrighted material was not a crime, if no money was made, and U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns said what had happened wasn't wire fraud but non-criminal copyright infringement. As Judge Stearns wrote in his opinion,

    This is not, of course, to suggest that there is anything edifying about
    what LaMacchia is alleged to have done. If the indictment is to be
    believed, one might at best describe his actions as heedlessly
    irresponsible. and at worst as nihilistic, self-indulgent, and lacking
    in any fundamental sense of values. Criminal as well as civil penalties
    should probably attach to willful, multiple infringements of copyrighted
    software even absent a commercial motive on the part of the infringer.
    One can envision ways that the copyright law could be modified to permit
    such prosecution. But, "'[i]t is the legislature, not the Court which is
    to define a crime, and ordain its punishment.'" Dowling, supra at 214
    (quoting United States v. Wiltberger, 5 Wheat. 76, 95 (1820)).


    In fact, the U.S. Congress took Judge Stearns up on his suggestion, adding the concept of commercial value and intent to profit to the criminal portion of the U.S. Copyright Law in the No Electronic Theft Act [usdoj.gov].

    I would not be surprised to see the Spanish law changed to close this loophole as well. {Prof. Jonathan Ezor, Touro Law Center Institute for Business, Law and Technology [tourolaw.edu]}
  • When will the large record companies, the RIAA, etc. figure out that music has evolved? Music is digital now which means it can be transfered on so many formats that it is impossible for them to control who has what. If everyone remembers, back in the days of tapes, everyone shared music. I remember borrowing tapes and making copies. I never bought music, I bought blank tapes. If a friend didn't have a song I wanted, I listened for it on the radio and recorded it off that (granted the quality sucked).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PhysicsPhil (880677)
      ...I remember borrowing tapes and making copies. I never bought music, I bought blank tapes. If a friend didn't have a song I wanted, I listened for it on the radio and recorded it off that (granted the quality sucked). This is basically the same thing as file sharing. Why were they not tracking down the millions of kids that did this in the 80's?

      Do you really need to ask? Widespread copying was a harder task in the 80s. You had to find someone who owned a copy of said music, which meant a local friend.
      • by Joce640k (829181)
        Widespread copying was a harder task in the 80s. You had to find someone who owned a copy of said music, which meant a local friend.

        Complete rubbish. Copying tapes was done en-masse when I was in education. Everybody, and I mean everybody had a twin cassette deck.

        The difference is that the RIAA would have had to stalk people and invade their rooms to catch them. Now they can sit in a cozy server room somewhere and track their IP addresses.

        And no, the RIAA's sales problems aren't due to piracy, they

    • by Liastnir (918417)
      The RIAA, et al. will figure out music has evoled when they themselves find a way to evolve so they don't lose their profits and power. And while they weren't tracking those kids down, they were trying to legislate it then too. Have you heard the story of the Pirate Bay logo? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Taping_is_Killin g_Music [wikipedia.org]
    • by vmerc (931519)
      Because they didn't and still don't have physical access to your home to monitor tapes being copied.
  • ...but have no place to go, now you have a place to go!

    Run with the bulls and download music and movies!
  • When the musical artists of Spain cry out in anguish, suffering their poor fates, who will hear them?

    Who will aid these poor souls, the noble artists who wish only to create beautiful works of musical art?

    Who will avenge them upon the uncaring souls who insist on simply taking what they want?

    El Kabong, that's who! <ka-bong!>
  • Justice Minister Juan Fernando Lopéz Aguilar says Spain is drafting a new law to abolish the existing right to private copies of material.

    I know this is just a tangential point in the article, but I sure wish there was some more detail about that. Are they really trying to say that there is no such thing as first sale any more? Will all copyrighted material become licensed, not sold, by law? This is wrong and unpossible[1] in so many ways, I can't even figure out what to argue against.

    [1] Not a typo

  • Okay, now how do I get a Spanish IP address?
  • Not quite true (Score:4, Informative)

    by Garabito (720521) on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:33PM (#16704031)
    Even when a judge ruled p2p legal in that case, that doesn't rule p2p legal in general. This is because Spanish legal system is based on Civil or Roman Law, not in Common Law like the U.S. or Great Britain.


    In Common Law, this ruling would have made a precedent which other judges in further cases should follow. In the Spanish system, judges are only required to follow what is stated in written law; rulings for previous similar cases are used only as a guide, but are not mandatory.

  • In the UK, Tony Blair is encouraging children to become scientists [bbc.co.uk] becuase not enough are, and he thinks the future depends on it.

    Scientists need to be able to access the work of those who have gone before, collaborate with their contemporaries, and publish their works so that others may build on them.

    In fact, many scientists are paid according as how many references their publications get.

    In this sphere, being obstructive like saying 'file sharing is illegal' is not going to allow progress to happen.

    So

    • by eklitzke (873155)
      Um, I'm not sure what your comment had to do with the article.

      Also, you generally cannot download scientific/mathematical papers free of charge. Yes, the papers on arxiv.org are free, but most journal published papers are not, and in fact subscription to mathematical/scientific/technical journals tend to be very expensive. To put this in perspective, an electronic subscription to the 2007 AMS journal will set you back $155 (link [ams.org]).
  • It must be noted that, while the sentence mentions "sharing", it doesn't mention P2P networks or anything. Moreover, what this guy did was to contact other people on "chats" (I don't know if he was using MSN or IRC or some other thing) and he was exchanging files with other people he met through email messages and normal mail (yes, they were sending CD copies to each other). This might have affected, I suppose, the outcome of the case.

    In the newspapers yesterday they mentioned what's described in TFA, but t
  • ...I think people are going to have to go back to making their own music again.
  • The structure of the recording industry have changed under the last decades. Almost every one today can own the recording equipement, so what is important to those few companies is to own the legal rights on the recorded piece of art. When our politician will give away the rigth for the people to do private copy, as in Sweden today or maybe in Spain tomorrow, they just sign a blanck check to those companies and don't give a dime for the rights of their own people. Hoppefully, many musicians understand that

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