The Spanish government has approved a new law that creates a government agency with the authority to force Internet service providers to block certain websites that are involved in pirating copyrighted material, reports said on Tuesday. Under the Sinde law [text, PDF, in Spanish], the new government agency will take claims of infringement [BBC report] against websites that have copyrighted material and will then determine whether to take action against the site. If the commission decides to take action, the legislation then provides that the case be referred to a judge who will make the final decision on whether the site should be shut down. Those opposing the new legislation argue that the law erodes the basic freedom of expression. The legislation was passed by the new ruling Partido Popular [party website, in Spanish] as one of its first acts since it came to power in November. The bill was originally considered by the prior government under Socialist rule, but was put on hold to be decided on later.
With the passage of the Sinde law, Spain joins other countries that have taken a strong stance against piracy. The US Congress is currently considering a similar bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA [materials]. In July, the UK allowed the blocking of a file-sharing site [JURIST report]. The UK's High Court of Justice ruled for the Motion Picture Association (MPAA), requiring Internet provider British Telecom (BT) to block access to a file-sharing website, Newzbin2. The British Department for Business Innovation and Skills in 2009 proposed stricter sanctions against illegal file-sharing that would include restricting and suspending user Internet access. This eventually became the Digital Economy Act passed in 2010. It is currently under judicial review.