Revised copyright law continues to provide major concerns for Spanish fans

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Written by Tanaqui, with additional reporting by hele

(Please note that many of the links lead to web pages in Spanish.)

Owners of fansites accused of copyright or trademark infringement may have gained some limited extra protection in the latest version of Spain’s new intellectual property laws, but some advocacy groups argue the new law is unnecessarily restrictive and others that it creates cumbersome procedures that won’t protect rights holders.

The revised Sinde law, which is named after culture minister Ángeles González-Sinde, was passed in the Spanish Senate in February and will now be sent back to Spain’s other chamber, the Congress of Deputies, in March. Under the new law--a section of the wider Ley de Economía Sostenible – requests by copyright holders for sites or individual webpages to be taken down must now be subjected to judicial review before ISPs can act.

The law has been enacted against a background of the Telecoms Reform Package passed by the European Parliament in November 2009 and pressure exerted by the USA embassy in Spain, as revealed in leaked cables published by wikileaks. González-Sinde herself has been accused of a conflict of interest, having worked as a scriptwriter and director before being appointed Culture Minister.

While most objections to the law have focused on filesharing, the law itself simply refers to “derechos de propiedad intelectual” or intellectual property rights, meaning that a wide range of fan activities, including art, vids, fanfic and podfic could all be targeted under it. Moreover, the revisions to the Sinde law may not even provide the limited protections they purport to offer for sites run from Spain on .com domains. US authorities recently seized control of the Rojadirecta.com domain, effectively taking down Rojadirecta’s website, despite Rojadirecta's activities having been declared legal after a protracted battle in the Spanish courts.

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