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New copyright rules in Spain will target advertisers on piracy sites

By | Published on Wednesday 27 March 2013


Perhaps noting that, of late, the music community’s second favourite piracy gripe (behind the high scoring of piracy sites in Google) has been the presence of adverts for sizable companies on websites that host or link to unlicensed content, the Spanish government is proposing new laws that would include sanctions against advertisers who are providing pirates with ad revenue.

Spanish politicians have been trying to crack down on rampant online piracy in the country for a while now, mainly under pressure from the American government.

Opting for a web-blocking approach rather than three-strikes with their Sinde Law in 2011, in theory Spanish law now makes it easier for rights owners to force net providers to block access to piracy websites, though no one has been especially pleased with the results. Opponents say the law gives too much control over the net to shady copyright bodes, while rights owners say the web-blocking provisions have been ineffective.

New anti-piracy measures proposed by Spanish political types last week include increased fines for websites that fail to remove unlicensed content from their sites after receiving takedown notices similar to those used in the US under America’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and, possibly more interestingly, sanctions against advertisers who place ads on sites widely believed to be piracy operations.

Quite how the ad crackdown would work isn’t clear, ie who decides that a site is a dodgy piracy set-up that advertisers should avoid, and what happens when advertisers claim – as they routinely do – that if their ads are showing up on copyright infringing websites, it’s because that site has quietly signed up with an otherwise legitimate ad network, meaning a brand’s ads are appearing without its knowledge.

According to Reuters, Spain’s Education & Culture Minister Jose Ignacio Wert said the bill, revealed last week, constitutes a new effort to “increase copyright protection” in the country by “going after large-scale distributors of illicit material”.

The proposals will now be subject to a consultation before legislation is put to the Spanish parliament later in the year.