Did Spain Really Legalize File Sharing? Or Did It Really Just Move One Step Towards It?

Did Spain Really Legalize File Sharing? Or Did It Really Just Move One Step Towards It?

In a case filed by the SGAE (the Spanish equivalent to the RIAA) against elrincondejesus, a torrent hosting website, a court in Barcelona recently sided with the website, and seemingly with the ability of internet users to pirate copyrighted content for non-profit reasons legally.

Alex Wilhelm has already explained the bulk of the details on the case here. One should not, however, read too much into this decision as an harbinger of things to come.

Firstly, in Spain, as in any other civil law country, there is no such thing as a judicial precedent, that is to say, where a prior judicial decision influences subsequent rulings by other courts. Judicial precedents are found in common law countries such as England and Wales or the United States.

In civil law countries, the decision by a court is valid only within the parameters set forth by the parties in the documents and as a rule of thumb produces effects only on the same parties. In the future another Spanish judge may or may not have the same opinion about similar facts and law as the one now espoused by the Barcelona judge. He is free to decide in accordance with his own opinion.

Secondly, the ruling was produce by a first instance court and the losing party is still in time to appeal to a higher court. Traditionally, judges in higher courts tend to be older and although the first instance judge has shown an excellent grasp of technology and the underlying issues it raises, I wonder if the appellate judges will show such proficiency with technology.

Bearing this in mind, I would say an interesting legal decision has been produced but that we should not look too much into it. At least for the time being.

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