Today El Mundo reports that the record companies, and copyright associations of Spain were dealt a heavy blow when a music downloader was absolved in a lawsuit in Santander. Basically, the judge said that file sharing for recreational/private use is not a crime in Spain. This was good news to the 48 year old accused man for whom the DA was asking that he be given 2 years in jail.
I think that one of the reasons that the record and movie industries lose most legal battles is that their posture of comparing file sharing to theft is not credible. Theft is theft, it involves depriving somebody of something. Judges who rule on file sharing are the same ones who send people to jail for stealing cars. Now when your car is stolen you lose your car. When you share music you keep your music, hardly theft. Whatever the record companies may say about what they lose when you share, sharing music has been around forever and sending a music lover who shares music to share a prison with rapists and murderers would be doing something that if I was running a record company would not allow me to sleep at night. How could somebody in a democracy go to jail for 2 years for doing something that millions of others do and get away with?
Laws that can´t be enforced against most should not be enforced against anyone. Now what is clearly illegal in Spain is to offer file sharing for money and if this man had been sharing files and making money out of it he would go to jail. In practical terms non punishable file sharing means that musicians in Spain, thanks to the internet will have an easier time becoming famous, but a harder time becoming rich. They can still do endorsements, clothes, concerts, and other activities so their added fame in the end may make them rich anyway.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars