Spanish activists issue manifesto on the rights of Internet users

Javier "Barrapunto" Candeira writes, "Last Monday the Spanish Government sent the parliament the latest draft for the Ley de Economia Sostenible (Sustainable Economy Act), which contained riders modifying the current laws on copyright and interactive services. These amendments give the Spanish Ministy of Culture the administrative power to take down websites (or order ISPs to block those hosted overseas), all without a court order and in the name of 'safeguarding Intellectual Property Laws against Internet Piracy'. For this reason some of us have written a manifesto that is being published today all over Spanish weblogs and media."

A group of journalists, bloggers, professionals and creators want to express their firm opposition to the inclusion in a Draft Law of some changes to Spanish laws restricting the freedoms of expression, information and access to culture on the Internet. They also declare that:

1 .- Copyright should not be placed above citizens' fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression.

2 .- Suspension of fundamental rights is and must remain an exclusive competence of judges. This blueprint, contrary to the provisions of Article 20.5 of the Spanish Constitution, places in the hands of the executive the power to keep Spanish citizens from accessing certain websites.

3 .- The proposed laws would create legal uncertainty across Spanish IT companies, damaging one of the few areas of development and future of our economy, hindering the creation of startups, introducing barriers to competition and slowing down its international projection.

4 .- The proposed laws threaten creativity and hinder cultural development. The Internet and new technologies have democratized the creation and publication of all types of content, which no longer depends on an old small industry but on multiple and different sources.

5 .- Authors, like all workers, are entitled to live out of their creative ideas, business models and activities linked to their creations. Trying to hold an obsolete industry with legislative changes is neither fair nor realistic. If their business model was based on controlling copies of any creation and this is not possible any more on the Internet, they should look for a new business model.

6 .- We believe that cultural industries need modern, effective, credible and affordable alternatives to survive. They also need to adapt to new social practices.

7 .- The Internet should be free and not have any interference from groups that seek to perpetuate obsolete business models and stop the free flow of human knowledge.

8 .- We ask the Government to guarantee net neutrality in Spain, as it will act as a framework in which a sustainable economy may develop.

9 .- We propose a real reform of intellectual property rights in order to ensure a society of knowledge, promote the public domain and limit abuses from copyright organizations.

10 .- In a democracy, laws and their amendments should only be adopted after a timely public debate and consultation with all involved parties. Legislative changes affecting fundamental rights can only be made in a Constitutional law.

manifiesto en defensa de los derechos fundamentales en internet (Thanks, Javier!)

(Image: ARTICLE 1, a Creative Commons Attribution image from art makes me smile's photostream)


  1. It seems that in Spain, cheesy musicians have higher rights than the rest of the population. They are the new elite.
    If you buy any kind of data storage medium (CD, DVD, BR, flash cards, hard disk, pen drives, etc) you have yo pay a special tax that goes directly to the “Copyright Managers” of the SGAE, a union that claim the ownership of over 20 million items but denies access to the complete list of works under some Terms of Use that would put in shame some crazy EULA we have seeing here…

  2. The spanish government has not been neither able nor willing to resist the pressures. This law is a delayed payment in exchange for the support given by the Media Industry to the Socialist Party.

    Private copy and downloads have always been legal in Spain (in fact all media able to store and manipulate data are taxed to compensate the industry, hell even printers) nevertheless the Government has spent vast amounts of public funds sponsoring campaigns that negate this right.

    The most dangerous flaw in this law is taking the courts out of the equation and placing the power of negating access and taking down sites in the hands of the very people who will benefit from it. Add to this that there are no DMCA or Safe Harbor provisions in Spain and we’re just a step away from arbitrary digital censorship -there is no doubt that this power will be used to it’s last consequences.

    I guess the main problem is that we still hold the wrong conception that governments work for -and in the interest of- the people.

  3. Really do need some kind of Magna Carta of copy law. And someone to tie to a tree and force to sign it.

  4. There was not, and never will be liberty of expression in Spain. It comes from a long ago time ; Do any of you remember the infamous “que inventen ellos!!”?
    As for the outcry about the new law, or amendment, you voted in the Socialist Party, and you didn’t think that all the Socialist governments through History have abolished the most basic rights of the citizens, as a first and basic step to remain in power?
    Good luck and bring the panderetas….

  5. As obnoxious as the mandatory media tax is, if that was all the industry asked for, they could probably get it almost everywhere. But nothing is enough for these people, so like Aesop’s dog, they will probably lose this ‘bone’ by greed.

    Trivia: In Canada it has been next to impossible to buy cd-r since dvd-r showed up, as for some bizarre reason the cd-r had the levy, but the dvd-r didn’t!

  6. I’m spanish, I pay a tax for everything, for example If I buy a Printer, I pay because a someone think that I use to print a book, the same applies to cameras, etc…
    If I buy a camera is to take pictures of my life, friends, etc, then why must I pay a tax?

    This laws were promulgated ( sorry for my english isn’t good ), because the Industry is not getting more benefits.

    Now it’s more important to defend the rights of a few to all citizens

    1. > “promulgated ( sorry for my english isn’t good )”

      You use a word like “promulgated” correctly, then apologise for your English? You shame most native English speakers :P

  7. Thank you for supporting the Manifesto from Spain.
    It has had an amazing amount hype in a very short period of time.
    It was created in Google wave by some of the main bloggers and jourinalists from our country in a few hours. I guess it takes longer to the politicians to write laws that limit our freedom.

  8. This screenshot is from Barrapunto (the Spanish Slashdot a couple of days ago:

    The first headline is a “Pregunta a /” (Ask Barrapunto) and its from a Spanish guy who lives in China and wants to know how to bypass censorship by using a VPN.

    The second one is about the bill that would allow the government to take down websites.

  9. I`m Spanich girl and I fell ashamed of this… i`m gonna tell ony a sentence….

    This will be like China, searching in internet “freedom” is forbidden.

  10. I completely agree with the manifesto. I think that the EP voted a directive, according to which authorities in European countries don’t have a right to stop internet to citizens without a fair trial. I’m not sure if it applies to net neutralities, but it should. Of course, we can all use proxies or similar services, but this isn’t the point. Everyone should be innocent untile proved guilty. This should be universal right and should stay above everything else.

  11. Thanks for your comment Dewi.

    In my opinion, many European countries use the pressure of some lobby, in this case the music, to control the net.

    Maybe not like China, but something like.

  12. Great article and very enlightening. Thanks for using my artwork (artmakesmesmile) from my flickr account and crediting me. I didn’t know about BB but I’ll be reading more in the future.

  13. Great article, very enlightening. I am glad my artwork was of use to you on this occasion. Didn’t know about BB but will be reading it in the future.

  14. This is happening all over the world – the giant media conglomerates are winning. What this manifesto does is put in writing the counter-thinking that has emerged only recently – the basis of which is that the copyright law must be put in its rightful place, far below human rights and constitutional rights – citizens fundamental rights.

    That’s why there is so much hype about this document – it’s an idea whose time has come.

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