By Emily Williams
The Public Knowledge blog responds to Wikileaks’ revelations that had been reported by El País, namely that Spain’s proposed piracy law that drew such vehement protests a year ago (as we at PP reported here) was likely influenced by direct pressure from the U.S. government, then under the George W. Bush administration.
Though this pressure had evidently been in place earlier, the cables suggest an ultimatum was made following Spain’s general elections in 2008, in which the U.S. government (whose policy aligns suspiciously with the positions of the MPAA and RIAA) used the threat of placing Spain on the Special 301 piracy watch list to try to coerce policy changes. Public Knowledge quotes directly from the cable:
“‘Our bottom line: consider giving the new government six months, and if it does not perform, put Spain on the Watch List.” (Incidentally, Spain appeared on the watch list in 2008, and remained there through 2009 and 2010.)
The blog notes, “it is odd to pressure another nation to adopt a legal regime that is neither active in nor currently being contemplated in one’s own country”, and points out the danger of setting intellectual property policy through intimidation, trade threats, and international peer pressure: “One would hope that where these laws are put into place, it’s a result of a legislature analyzing the facts on the ground in their country, and trying to work out the balance of their citizens’ rights, not merely because industry pressure points to other jurisdictions in a sort of peer pressure by proxy.”