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Push grows to blacklist Spain over digital pirating

More than 90 percent of downloaded music and 44 percent of software is pirated in Spain. Some trade associations want to see it blacklisted by the US, but Spain says it needs more time.

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Spain, with one of the world’s worst online piracy track records, is hoping that plans to pass new antipiracy legislation this year will be enough to convince the US government to keep it off its infamous blacklist, despite the Spanish and American entertainment industry demands to relist it.

After five consecutive years on a “priority watch list” curated by the US office of trade, Spain was delisted in 2012 following its implementation of a more muscular antipiracy code. But the powerful International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a coalition of US trade associations, recommended in February that Spain be included on this year's list of countries that do not do enough to protect copyright laws.

“Contrary to the expectations that led to Spain’s removal from the Special 301 Watch List last year, Spain saw no positive developments in 2012,” the IIPA said in its influential annual report released last month.

“Internet piracy has continued to grow at a tremendous rate. After years of difficulty, many in the copyright industries see not a hint of optimism for the levels of piracy in the country,” the report said.

A spot on the blacklist would carry the threat of sanctions and scare away investors, which could further damage Spanish efforts to rebuild its economy amid the euro crisis.

Spanish officials, though, say they don’t expect Spain to be blacklisted again, because they have only had one year to implement their 2012 legislation, and given the forthcoming laws, expected to be passed by the end of the year.   

While acknowledging limited success in the fight against online piracy, the government trusts the US will recognize it just needs more time, officials say.

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