Revised copyright law continues to provide major concerns for Spanish fans

Written by Tanaqui, with additional reporting by hele

(Please note that many of the links lead to web pages in Spanish.)

Owners of fansites accused of copyright or trademark infringement may have gained some limited extra protection in the latest version of Spain’s new intellectual property laws, but some advocacy groups argue the new law is unnecessarily restrictive and others that it creates cumbersome procedures that won’t protect rights holders.

The revised Sinde law, which is named after culture minister Ángeles González-Sinde, was passed in the Spanish Senate in February and will now be sent back to Spain’s other chamber, the Congress of Deputies, in March. Under the new law–a section of the wider Ley de Economía Sostenible – requests by copyright holders for sites or individual webpages to be taken down must now be subjected to judicial review before ISPs can act.

The law has been enacted against a background of the Telecoms Reform Package passed by the European Parliament in November 2009 and pressure exerted by the USA embassy in Spain, as revealed in leaked cables published by wikileaks. González-Sinde herself has been accused of a conflict of interest, having worked as a scriptwriter and director before being appointed Culture Minister.

While most objections to the law have focused on filesharing, the law itself simply refers to “derechos de propiedad intelectual” or intellectual property rights, meaning that a wide range of fan activities, including art, vids, fanfic and podfic could all be targeted under it. Moreover, the revisions to the Sinde law may not even provide the limited protections they purport to offer for sites run from Spain on .com domains. US authorities recently seized control of the domain, effectively taking down Rojadirecta’s website, despite Rojadirecta’s activities having been declared legal after a protracted battle in the Spanish courts.

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  1. belengar commented:

    There are many problems with this law. Now a judge has to be involved but not to say if the webpage is doing something legal or not, just to identify the site owner.

    Even more worrying for fanfic writers is Sinde’s remarks about Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda’s Quixote (which by today’s standard would be considered fanfiction), where she claimed that book was piracy.

    • scribblesinink commented:

      I think you mean this article (ran through Google Translate since I don’t speak Spanish)?

      She also says: Cada vez menos gente podrá dedicarse profesionalmente a ella y nos veremos abocados a un menú monofágico de apenas unos pocos platos que gusten a muchos y que decidan por nosotros grandes intereses económicos (los verdaderos dueños de la Red).

      Fewer and fewer people may engage it professionally and we condemn ourselves to a monophagous menu of just a few dishes like a lot and decide for us economic interests

      Which I find mind-boggling naive. If we don’t protect copyrights rigorously, fewer people will be professional creators (I’m assuming professional here means “get paid for it”) may or may not be true, time will tell. But having less professional creators leads to cultural poverty with few choices? I think that’s already proven untrue. Or did she miss The Long Tail? The many unsigned music artists that rose to fame through YouTube and other outlets? Self-publishing? Etc.

      • Belengar commented:

        Throughout that article is made very clear that she doesn’t know how Internet works and what kind of business opportunities can be found here. I’m sure she’ll be surprised about the amount of ebooks (or songs or movies) that are sold online daily in the US, while in Spain we can’t access anything similar to Netflix, or Amazon videos, or download TV series or movies via Applestore (that’s one of the reasons so many people download them). I’m sure she’ll also be surprised by the amount of authors that are published in small editorials and sell lots of books thanks to the web.

        She missed the long tail, active audience, and network society 101 (and even her history lessons about patronage, or the date of Gutenberg’s print). She obviously wouldn’t understand fandom where people write, vid or draw and don’t get money in return (she’ll probably just see the “piracy” side).

  2. Tronella commented:

    I had a bash at translating the article in the first link. If you’re interested, it’s here: