While I’m on my anti-Big-Industry high horse, a word of support for Pablo Soto. Pablo and his company MP2P Technologies are being sued by Warner Music, Universal Music, Emi, Sony and the Spanish record industry association PROMUSICAE, which seek the ridiculous sum of 13 million euros for competencia desleal, unfair competition. Pablo’s offences are a) to champion the P2P cause and b) to develop software which allows file sharing. The case is currently being heard by a court in Madrid and is expected to last no more than a day or two more, though it will be months before a verdict is made public and whoever loses will probably appeal, in any case.
It’s an important case for lots of reasons. All efforts by the copyright industries to prosecute copyright offenders in Spain have failed, because the law as it stands says that two premises need to be fulfilled – that there has been unauthorized “communication” of copyright-protected works and that it was motivated by a desire to profit. The single exception is the webmaster of a site in La Rioja called InfoPSP, AdriÃ¡n GÃ³mez Llorente, condemned in April, 1992. The word is that this sentence was the result of an agreement whereby he accepted a few months of prison and a fine of â‚¬4,900 and the prosecution promised to refrain from bringing a civil suit against him. In other words, blackmail.
The evident injustice and the lightness of the compensation awarded combined with the fact that in Spain, with very few exceptions, sentences of less than 3 years never entail the offender actually being sent to gaol, made it a hollow victory for the copyright sector. So the case against Pablo Soto represents a change of strategy by the copyright industries, beginning with a civil suit rather than a prosecution. Hence, we imagine, the absurdity of the numbers being thrown around.
I wish Pablo all the best and hope the consequences for him of this legal action are minimum or even positive (and if the sector were left with egg on its face again, that too would please me, I don’t mind confessing). Unfortunately, I am pessimistic. I feel that if PROMUSICAE’s legal thugs lose again, they will simply use it as an argument to put pressure on Spanish parliament to change the legislation, as the US copyright sector is lobbying. The clout of this sector is immense, which is why I have been blogging about it for the last couple of days, and I am afraid right-thinking governments like those of Spain or Canada will not have the long-term resistance to withstand it.