By Emily Williams
It’s accepted as common knowledge in Spain that the country has possibly the worst case of digital piracy in Europe and Spaniards may even be among the worst offenders in the world. Andreu Teixidor, former president of Destino, a division of Planeta, and a panelist on Digital Publishing at the recent Feria del Libro Digital (discussed in our lead article today), called the lack of protection for intellectual property “shameful” and further stated that Spain is second in the world in digital piracy after China. Belief in the special perfidy of the Spanish consumer is cited frequently by publishers whose fear of piracy and rampant P2P content sharing has come close to paralyzing the industry’s move into e-books. So, is this fear justified? Are young Spaniards really such flagrant unrepentant law-breakers?
“Absolutely not!” says Francisco Ros, Spain’s Secretary of IT and Telecommunications, who has characterized the idea that Spain is a leader in piracy as an “urban legend” and insisted “there is no objective data” that shows Spain has more piracy than other EU countries.
But, on the other side of the debate we have…the United States.
A special session on “Protection of Intellectual Property Rights” kicked off the fair and offered presentations from the US Copyright Office as well as government representatives from the UK, France, Germany, and Sweden. During the session, Spanish host Agustín González García pointed out that the Special 301 Report from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) singled Spain out for “special monitoring.” The IIPA is a private sector coalition made up of US content producers—movie studios, publishers, music companies, and software developers—that has been criticized in the past for partiality in its ratings of other countries’ efforts in the area of copyright protection.
However, joining the chorus this year was the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, whose 2009 watch list featured Spain along with China, Russia, Mexico, and Canada. The Caucus condemned Spanish government policy “that has essentially decriminalized illicit P2P file sharing” as well as “the inadequate implementation of EU-level requirements regarding ISPs”, characterizing the situation in Spain for copyright holders as “untenable” and calling on the government to take action.
The quarrel, then, seems to be with the legal framework more than with the consumers and, with all due respect to every country’s desire to be the best at something, putting Spanish file sharers ahead of world class pirates in countries like Russia and Indonesia might be a slight exaggeration.
Tell us what you think in the comments below of via Twitter using hashtag #ppbonus.
READ: the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus’s 2009 Watch List
WATCH: the special session on Protection of Intellectual Property Rights