Spanish court says no infringement case against P2P software maker

By | Published on Tuesday 20 December 2011


An attempt by the record industry to sue the provider of file-sharing technologies in Spain has failed. All four majors joined with Promusica to sue Pablo Soto and his MP2P company, which distributes various file-sharing clients, including Blubster, Piolet and Manolito P2P.

Spanish law hasn’t proved especially useful over the years in helping the record industry fight illegal file-sharing, with judges there generally ruling that individuals sharing copyright content online does not constitute infringement if the users are not profiting from their actions.

With that precedent set, it’s harder to go after the providers of P2P software for so called contributory infringement (the kind of infringement P2P software makers have been successfully sued over in the US, and which The Pirate Bay was found liable for in Sweden), because if the software’s users are not infringing to start with, there’s nothing for the software makers to contribute too.

As previously reported, the Spanish music industry hoped that if they could prove MP2P was profiting from activities that were detrimental to their business that might be a strong enough case in itself (similar arguments have had some success in the Italian courts) but it wasn’t to be. According to El Mundo, a Spanish court has now ruled that Soto and his companies provide a neutral technical function, and that there is no liability for any sort of infringement.

Needless to say, Soto welcomed the ruling, telling reporters: “We are extremely grateful to the court for finding not only in our favour, but in favour of justice, innovation and in equal access to digital distribution”.

The music industry, meanwhile, will not be impressed. Of course in parallel to this case, music companies in Spain and certain governments from elsewhere, particularly the US, have been calling on Spanish regulators to overhaul the country’s copyright laws so rights owners can better fight online piracy. The so called Sinde Law, which will provide a system through which rights owners can have copyright infringing websites blocked, has been approved by the country’s parliament, though implementation of that system has been delayed by an election and now change of government.