Ars Technica, By Nate Anderson, January 6
Though a deeply divided Congress is currently considering Internet website censorship legislation, the US has no such official policy””not even for child porn, which is voluntarily blocked by some ISPs. Nor does the US have a government-backed “three strikes” or “graduated response” system of escalating warnings to particular users accused of downloading music and movies from file-sharing networks.
Yet here was the ultimatum that the US Embassy in Madrid gave the Spanish government in February 2008: adopt such measures or we will punish you. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we have the text of the diplomatic cable announcing the pressure tactics.
We propose to tell the new government that Spain will appear on the Watch List if it does not do three things by October 2008. First, issue a [Government of Spain] announcement stating that Internet piracy is illegal, and that the copyright levy system does not compensate creators for copyrighted material acquired through peer-to-peer file sharing. Second, amend the 2006 ”œcircular” that is widely interpreted in Spain as saying that peer-to-peer file sharing is legal. Third, announce that the GoS [Government of Spain] will adopt measures along the lines of the French and/or UK proposals aimed at curbing Internet piracy by the summer of 2009.
The Watch List referenced is the US Trade Representative’s “Special 301″ list, updated annually. Spain was duly put on the list in 2008 after failing to take such measures. (“The United States is concerned by the Spanish government’s inadequate efforts to address the growing problem of Internet piracy, described by U.S. copyright industries as one of the worst in Europe,” said the 2008 report.) Spanish copyright holders applauded the move; indeed, the cables show that they repeatedly asked US officials to make it.