As long as no profits are made, it’s legal to share copyrighted material through peer-to-peer transfers or link to it through a Web site, a Spanish court ruled.
At issue was the case of elrincondejesus.com, a site that links to files on the decentralized P2P network known as eDonkey. Jesus Guerra operates the site for no commercial gain, but last May, the music industry group SGAE (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) sent a complaint to Guerra, alleging copyright abuse. Eventually, the case was brought to trial while the site continued to operate.
Judge Raul N. García Orejudo has now ruled that Guerra did nothing wrong by operating the site, TorrentFreak reports. Guerra’s lack of direct or indirect profits from the site factored into the judge’s decision, but he also noted there’s no law in Spain that prohibits linking to copyrighted material. An index of links is not the same as distribution itself, Orejudo ruled.
The real treat for users of file-sharing sites, however, was Orejudo’s declaration that peer-to-peer transfers are legal as long as no one’s profiting. As TechDirt points out, this is essentially a reiteration of a ruling from 2009, in which a man who downloaded over 3,000 movies was cleared of copyright infringement charges because he wasn’t profiting from his actions.
Spain’s lenient copyright laws have obviously drawn the music industry’s ire. Earlier this month, Spanish indie labels sued the government for its laws on file-sharing. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from Spain as the industry tries to get tougher laws on the books.
Still, this case wasn’t about directly pirating movies. The defendant was merely accused of linking to copyrighted files. This puts the industry in a tough position, because decentralized file sharing makes it difficult to track down the actual pirates. Guerra was an easier target, but he wasn’t the right one.