US Government Bullies Spain Into Passing SOPA-Like Website Blocking Law

On January 3, a law similar to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US passed in Spain and according to CBS News, the US government is responsible for making that happen: 

The Sinde Law, which is named after former Spanish Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde, lets copyright holders report websites that host content which infringes on their rights. The government must then choose to take action against the site or ISP. If moved along, a judge will decide whether or not to shut down the website.

What's interesting about the law is that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) alleges the U.S. had a hand in pushing Spain to pass the legislation.

The EFF cited Wikileaks cables given to Spanish newspaper El Pais. The cables suggest the U.S. threatened to put Spain on the Special 301 report if the country did not tighten up online piracy laws.

Special 301 is a report compiled by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) used to review global intellectual property rights, protection and enforcement.

The 2008 cable drafted by the U.S. Embassyin Madrid and later published by El Pais stated:

"We propose to tell the new government that Spain will appear on the Watch List if it does not do three things by October 2008. First, issue a GOS announcement stating that internet piracy is illegal, and that the copyright levy system does not compensate creators for copyrighted material acquired through peer-to-peer file sharing. Second, amend the 2006 "Circular" that is widely interpreted in Spain as saying that peer-to-peer file sharing is legal. Third, announce that the GOS will adopt measures along the lines of the French and/or UK proposals aimed at curbing internet piracy by the summer of 2009."

Countries added to the "priority watch list" could be subjected to trade sanctions that would be consequential to their economy. Spain's precarious financial situation would no doubt suffer from retaliation under the Special 301 ranking.

Last month, EFF provided a comprehensive background of the bullying tactics used by the US government to coerce Spain’s adoption of this SOPA-like law. Apparently, apparently all that arm-bending worked. 

AlterNet / By Rania Khalek

Posted at January 5, 2012, 9:15am

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