P2P Crackdown: Spain Makes File-Sharing Illegal

Dennis Faas's picture

It is a civil (and in some cases criminal) offense to file share over the Internet. And as of Tuesday, June 27th, this is reality for thousands of downloaders in Spain.

Recently, the country's Congress passed legislation banning unauthorized peer-to-peer sharing of files. The difference between North American crackdowns and those in Spain lies in the aggressive nature of the Spanish legislation. It is a criminal offense for P2P (Peer to Peer) networks to allow downloading, and a civil offense for anyone to engage in this downloading, even for personal use. (Source: tmcnet.com)

Long History of Peer-to-Peer Sharing

File sharing has been an online phenomenon since the late 1990s, when illegal distributors like Napster and Kazaa began making files available for download to users from around the world.

P2P networks store files on the personal computer of users, and the network databases engaged by Napster, Kazaa, or limewire allow anyone access to the said files for no cost.

Although such P2P networks often request that users not download copyrighted music, movies, or games, the ultimate use of downloading programs is universally known. (Source: wikipedia.org)

File sharing has been available for years. Although music and movie databases, like limewire and BitTorrent, are receiving the most attention today, it has been possible to download copyrighted applications for a long time. Nintendo and Sega games have been available for download to PCs through emulators for years, and the sites carrying such illegal software have often boasted an official line smiliar to those heralded by limewire and BitTorrent: Only download this file if you already own the game, CD, or DVD.

No one ever suspects the Spanish Inquisition!

Although record labels and individual musicians have attempted to stamp out illegal downloading in the past, the Spanish government may be opening the floodgates for similar legislation in North America.

Not only are Spanish downloaders and programs like eMule at risk for arrest, but so are Internet Service Providers (ISPs). According to Spain's recent legislation, it is a criminal -- not just a civil -- offense for ISPs to allow its users to download unauthorized licensed material.

The legislation may lead to a glut in Spain's court system.

According to sources, Spain's largest telecommunications company, Telefonica, reports that 90% of usage on its lines is from Internet users, and of this percentage an incredible 71% is hogged by P2P traffic. (Source: tmcnet.com)

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