Leaked memo: USA blackmailed Spain into passing brutal, censoring copyright law

On the eve of the enactment of Spain's harsh new copyright law, El Pais has published a leaked letter from the US Ambassador to the outgoing Spanish president ordering him to enact the copyright law America's industry wants to see, or face trade sanctions.

Spain's new law establishes a Syrian/Chinese style censoring firewall that blocks websites on the basis of unproven copyright claims, and mirrors the matching provisions of the proposed US Stop Online Piracy Act, making censorship into one of today's leading American exports.

In a letter dated 12 December and obtained by Spanish newspaper El Pais, US ambassador Alan Solomont wrote to the outgoing Spanish president expressing his concern about the lack of movement on a online piracy bill, known as the Sinde law.

"The government has unfortunately failed to finish the job for political reasons, to the detriment of the reputation and economy of Spain..." In his letter, Solomont issued veiled threats, reminding its recipients that Spain is on the Special 301, the US trade representatives' list of countries that do not provide "adequate and effective" protection of intellectual property rights. Spain risks having its position on the list "degraded", and could join the real blacklist of "the worst violators of global intellectual property rights."

US pressured Spain to implement online piracy law, leaked files shows


  1. Spanish president? What happened to King Juan Carlos??  Maybe you mean prime minister also know as the President of the Government

    1. That’s because the terms, here in Spain the cabinet’s head is refered as “el presidente (del consejo de ministros)”

  2. “could join the real blacklist of “the worst violators of global intellectual property rights.””

    Considering we still do business with China, that’s not much of a threat.

  3. In Switzerland, our own IP bureocrats where all applauding the DMCA and whenever you engaged them into discussion on the dismerits of that, they just stuck their head in the sand and went on to say “yeah, but we’ve got to give in some”. The echoes of the very same veiled threats leaked all trough the facade and I’d not be in the least surprised if our government had been blackmailed in much the same way (and is still being coerced).

    1. I suspect most of the worlds nations have been threatened in similar ways. What happened to transparency and accountability? NDAs are rotting the world to its core!

    1. USA has always played more hardball externally than internally. Just observe the events in SA in the 60s.

  4. Missing the point jonathan80. It’s a shame good old USA doesn’t go back to its non-interventionist days. Although it must be fun being China’s b!tch.

  5. A national firewall that blocks content for political reasons is a Chinese/Syrian style firewall.

    A national firewall that blocks content on the basis of unproven copyright claims is a US style firewall.

    Just sayin’…

    1. Nah, they are the same thing. The slightly implausible justification of needing these powers to fight copyright violations is only the excuse.  In both cases, the end goal is censorship of the internet, and that’s how it will be used.

      In China or Syria they may have their own excuses, like maintaining public order or decency, but that doesn’t alter the reality of what they are doing.

      1. I’m not so sure about that.  I think the end goal of SOPA style laws is to fill the pockets of senators.  That said, inevitably any censorship law will be abused by government, that’s the only thing they’re good at.

        1. the goal is to keep oudated business practices working and enforce a policy and industry standard chosen by a conglomerate of companies rather than the majority of users and voting/paying citizens.

          additionally using censorship is the worst possible way to do this as it ultimately will always be abused for other purposes.

    2. And the precise difference is? Isn’t the one (copyright infringement) just a ruse to create the other (political censorship)?

  6. Does that not mean that the US tax payer funds the content rights holder industry’s lobby work?  
    Not kosher.  
    Ambassador Alan Solomont needs to be recalled.

  7. Change Spain – Change The World! line from old film? http://dciff-indie.org/2012/01/02/ars-est-pecunia-copyright-in-the-internet-age/ bless US Gov 4 standing up against evil reality with evil reality – wait…?

  8. How stupid are the Spanish government? Why let yourself be pushed around by a multi-trillion-dollar-sub-prime-debt economy with delusions of grandeur, about to torpedo one of its few remaining advantages by crippling the internet within its own borders?

    Why join in this madness? WHY GO FIRST?  What if SOPA and PROTECT-IP get mercifully de-railed after all? Then Spain ends up holding the idiot ball.

    1. We love to hold the idiot ball if we are told it´s the coolest thing to do.

      In Spain we preserve animals killing them, we build airports not to use them, we promote economy crippling it.

      Also we spit in the face of thermodynamics and logic in our local holidays…

    1. My plan for a few years has been to move to barcelona for work around 2012. Now i m not so sure.

      1.  I think it’s the Spanish equivalent of NY. (wink)
        However, their local government is always trying to get the most for the region. Sucks if you are native and not from there, but if you just come to work, it might be the only good place to find it.
        Anyway, being from out of Spain, you will barely use local websites that are not news outlets or gov. services , so this won’t really affect you much if at all. Employment is a bigger concern.

  9. That’s some blackmail. “Pass a law we want pass or a long-standing but pretty ineffective law could list you as a bad guy.” I wonder if Spain knows how irrelevant that is. I’m guessing they probably do, which is to say that Spain doesn’t give two shits about this memo and passed whatever laws it wanted to for other reasons. Which isn’t d blackmail.

    Whatever the (de)merits of this law, the cause/effect is wishful thinking.

  10. Every morning I wake up and lose a bit more faith in the American Government…OWS’ers please save my faith in the US. Please let there be radical reform (not Obama-esque reform….actual reform) that puts the US on even a sorta better track than it is now. I’m not asking for the best possible government you can have….just something that appears to be going in the right direction. (And that direction should be to remove the rights of big corps to be “citizens”)

  11. What kind of trade do Spain and the US share anyway?  Are they referring to exporting media (my assumption given the context)?  So is the threat that Spain may no longer be able to show American Pie movies in their cinemas and play Justin Bieber songs on their radio?  Hardly a loss – and hell, as long as SOPA isn’t in place in Spain they can just pirate the media anyway!

    On the other hand I imagine that Spain export fruit and veg to America (if anything), and given the disgusting quantity of waste produced by the US and the amount of food they consume as a nation it seems more like the US shooting themselves in the foot.  Would love to learn more about what actual power the US holds over Spain, as I can’t imagine it’s much, if any, with regards to trade.

    1. According to the Spanish Institute of Foreign Commerce (ICEX) the top 5 exports to the U.S.A. are:

      1-Environment and energy production – $2.5  billion
      2-Industrial technology – $2 billion
      3-Chemical industry (chemical products) – $1.3 billion
      4-Ancillary mechanical and construction industry – $0.7 billion
      5-Raw materials, semi-processed and intermediate products – $0.6 billion

      1. Good and timely info, but pretty abstract.  Here’s a couple of concrete examples in which Spain is Numero Uno:
        Spain is the world leader in eolic (wind) power generators.
        Spain is the world’s top producer of olive oil.

        But anyway, the leaked memo, the act of coercion, should be grounds for revoking the copyright law, with no trade consequences, wouldn’t you think?

  12. One of the major advantages of the EU is the ability to stand up to this kind of bullying. The US may be willing to block trade with Spain, but is less likely to risk a trade blockade with the whole of Europe. The US are doing a fine job of ‘divide-and-conqeur’ (see also demands for information ‘sharing’ related to air travel and visa-waiver). Where is the EU in all of this? Wringing their hands about the imminent implosion of the Euro, by the looks of things (while the markets continue to pick on individual countries like hyenas picking off the weak from the edge of the herd). If the EU wants our support, they really need to start acting.

    1. You know that this has nothing to do with trade blockades, right? Oh wait, you don’t. Not that Cory gave any context to this extremely typical diplomatic note, or the minimal consequences of either Special 301, or any other IP protection list the USTR puts out. Canada is on the Special 301 list as well. See how that trade blockade works?

  13. If you ask yourself why the U.S. government would give half a shit about Spain’s intellectual property laws, it becomes painfully apparent that this is yet another case of gunboat diplomacy funded by self-interested American corporations puppetizing through expenditure and litigation. U$A

  14. “New copyright law”? I think the law (LPI/Intellectual property law) hasn’t been modified. I think that all is about avoiding the law by closing web sites without a trial. Until now, trials has been won by web page’s administrators.
    I’m not lawyer nor english speaker, so sorry for the errors.

  15. OUR FUCKING GOVERNMENT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Our government always decries of China’s Censorship on the Internet is bad BUT LOOK AT WHAT WE GOT HERE!  Our Government Blackmailing SPAIN not only forcing it to have Chinese Styled Censorship but provisions of SOPA…NO MORE OF THIS TYRANNICAL HYPOCRITICAL BS MAN! THIS NEEDS TO STOP!

  16. Not surprising.

    The US government are scumbags and Spain’s new right-wing dictator will do everything he can to kiss their asses.

    I predict an overthrow of Spain’s new PM within the year. Spaniards were dumb enough to elect him. They’re not however dumb enough to keep him.

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