Spain adopts tough anti-piracy law

The Spanish government has proposed a new anti-piracy law which empowers judges to ban websites that offer unauthorized downloads of movies, music and other forms of entertainment.
Spanish justice minister Francisco Caamano said on Friday that a judge’s order was necessary for this decision to be taken quickly. Under the plan the government will appoint a panel of experts to hear complaints against suspect sites and within four days after all sides have been heard, the judge will pass a decision.
The measure was passed at a Cabinet meeting Friday, but the new draft needs approval by parliament before it is brought into effect.
A draft version of the proposal was initially proposed in November, but had to be revised after internet users and bloggers claimed the proposed law could be used to censor content on websites.
In the original versions a judge’s order was not required and websites offering illegal downloads would be blocked or shut down by a new regulatory body.
Thousands of people had signed a manifesto opposing the draft law, and Prime Minister Jose Louis Rodriguez Zapatero stepped in to ensure a modified version of the draft law would be introduced by the government.
The proposed legislation is part of a Sustainable Economy Law currently being drawn up by the Spanish government.
The proposal takes a more direct attack from the "Three Strikes" law passed in France in September, where internet access is removed from end-users accused of repeated illegal downloading.
The Spanish music industry claims that the industry has lost €798 million in revenue over 2007 and 2008 due to online piracy.