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In Spain, website owners can now get six years in prison for linking to copyrighted material

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Congreso de los Diputados wikimedia
Congreso de los Diputados wikimedia

Website owners whose sites profit from linking to unauthorized copyrighted material can now be jailed for up to six years under a new measure that passed today in Spain. Spain is considered one of the worst offenders in Europe when it comes to illegally downloading content; one study reported that 98.7 of music Spaniards listen to is pirated. The law will spare peer-to-peer filesharing sites, search engines, and users of the link-sharing sites.

Spain enacted the law in response to the US

The country enacted the law as a response to pressure from the US, where ironically the law is not as strict. Spain is in danger of being added to a list of countries that Washington considers to be the most egregious violators of copyright law, meaning it could be subject to trade sanctions from the US. Considering that Spain has just started recovering from the deep recession that began in 2008, it makes sense that citizens are downloading their music and movies instead of paying for it. But for the same reason, the Spanish government desperately wants to avoid angering one of its best customers.