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Portugal: File Sharing For Personal Use Is Legal And IP Addresses Are Not People

from the holy-sanity,-batman dept

In a move that should remind you of Spain's ruling that personal file-sharing was legal, before America's entertainment industry helpfully wrote the Spanish people a new law (wait...what!!?!?), file-sharing for personal use has been declared legal in Portugal. How could something so monumental happen, you wonder? Well, funny story: the entertainment industry made it happen.

The tale goes something like this. An anti-piracy group sponsored by the entertainment industry called ACAPOR got all uppity about Portuguese filesharing a year ago and decided to helpfully deliver boxes (yes, physical boxes) of IP addresses suspected of filesharing infringing files to Portugal's Attorney General's office. They did this while wearing shirts that proclaimed "Piracy is illegal" in case anyone thought they were there for a cause that is actually useful and/or interesting.
“We are doing anything we can to alert the government to the very serious situation in the entertainment industry,” ACAPOR commented at the time, adding that “1000 complaints a month should be enough to embarrass the judiciary system.”
Secure in their knowledge that justice would be done, ACAPOR's minions then went home and did whatever it is these kinds of people do when they aren't making fantastic amounts of noise and generally making fools of themselves.

Well, as is their duty, the folks at the Attorney General's office did look through the boxes of evidence ACAPOR had provided...and promptly threw them out.
The Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DIAP) looked into the complaints and the prosecutor came back with his order this week. Contrary to what the anti-piracy group had hoped for, the 2,000 IP-addresses will not be taken to court. Worse for ACAPOR, the prosecutor goes even further by ruling that file-sharing for personal use is not against the law.

“From a legal point of view, while taking into account that users are both uploaders and downloaders in these file-sharing networks, we see this conduct as lawful, even when it’s considered that the users continue to share once the download is finished.”
Oops. Turns out those "Piracy is illegal" shirts are as ill-informed about the law in Portugal as the people wearing them. Especially since, for good measure, the AG informed ACAPOR that IP addresses are not people, so their evidence wasn't so much "evidence" as it was "a horrific waste of time and trees".

Now, not one to let facts get in the way of saying something stupid, ACAPOR boss Nuno Pereira pushed back on the AG's office.
“Personally I think the prosecutors just found a way to adapt the law to their interest – and their interest is not having to send 2,000 letters, hear 2,000 people and investigate 2,000 computers,” Pereira says.
Sure, that makes sense. Everyone knows if you're looking to avoid having to send letters and do paperwork, becoming a lawyer is the way to go. But did you really expect an anti-piracy group to take a sane thumping gracefully?

Of course, as we've seen elsewhere, whenever a country reacts sensibly concerning things like file sharing, the entertainment industry lobbying engine revs right back up... and suddenly the countries are described by US politicians in the worst possible terms. Any bets on whether or not Portugal just wrote itself onto the USTR's Special 301 list and the Congressional Anti-Piracy Caucus' "watch list"?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:36pm

    I'll take that bet!

    I hereby bet $5 that Portugal will end up on the USTR's Special 301 list and the Congressional Anti-Piracy Caucus' watch list.

    It's pretty much a sure thing, and I could use the $5.

    ;-P

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Beech, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:37pm

    Hilarious

    "Sure, that makes sense. Everyone knows if you're looking to avoid having to send letters and do paperwork, becoming a lawyer is the way to go. "

    Just decided that this quote deserves a shot at the "Funniest/Most Insightful." Tim for the win!

     

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  3.  
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    GMacGuffin (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Hilarious

    Agreed. I just wish someone had dropped that sardonic line on me 18 years ago...

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    jam_paps, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:51pm

    Some Faith in Humanity has been Restored!!!

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:53pm

    Injustice!

    Personally I think the prosecutors just found a way to adapt the law to their interest...

    ...when they're paid to adapt the law to OUR interest!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Corby (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:58pm

    I wonder if the American Entertainment industry will now write a new law for the peopoe of Portugal as they did for Spain.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    TDR, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:26pm

    "a horrific waste of time and trees"

    An apt way to describe every piece of maximalist legislation bought/passed by the legacy entertainment industries and their puppet politicians.

     

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  8.  
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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:34pm

    It would have been funny seeing the pulp and paper industry being denied to protect the papyrus or rock chipping industry. I would love to have seen lawyers chipping out cease and desist letters on a sheet of rock to send to each of the 1,000 alleged pirates =P

     

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  9.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:43pm

    Re: I say

    "An apt way to describe every piece of most legislation bought/passed by the legacy entertainment industries and their puppet politicians."
    FTFY

    :-)

     

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  10.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: I say

    Damn lack of 'Edit'! Meant to say:
    "An apt way to describe every piece of most legislation."

     

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  11.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: I say

    Grr. Trying again:
    "An apt way to describe most legislation."


    There we go, nailed it!

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:56pm

    The humour in this piece is some of the best I have seen in a long time. Timothy Geigner is really good at this! :)

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    schism, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:23pm

    Portugal has an interesting history of deciding upon sanity. 10 years ago they decriminalized drug use only to see drug use in their country decline. Not sure how the copyright thing will play out, but I'm hopeful sanity prevails.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 6:17pm

    More of the haves and have nots. Can you remind me again all of the fine international movies and music coming out of Portugal? Oh, none. Right.

    It's a copyright consumer nation telling the copyright producing nations it's no longer going to make anyone pay. That's just wonderful for them.

     

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  15.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 6:31pm

    Re: I'll take that bet!

    Yes, but I'm afraid it's so much of a sure thing that no-one is going to bet against it happening, so I'm afraid you'll have to do without the extra $5.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 6:47pm

    Re:

    Drug use didn't decline, but the crimes attached to drug use (robbery, assault, etcetera) did. By a lot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 6:50pm

    Re:

    You mean these?

    http://www.imdb.com/country/pt

    And music? These people might disagree.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Portuguese_musicians

    Do you ever actually think before opening your mouth?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 6:58pm

    Re:

    Incidentally, if you'd like to insist that all people ever download is Top 20 stuff and Justin Bieber, care to tell indie musicians who post here (with no credentials) to whine that people are downloading their stuff to shove it? Clearly no one's downloading their stuff - by your admission.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Re:

    Umm, how much of the music and movies are being consumed outside of the country?

    How much outside stuff is consumed inside the country.

    NET CONTENT CONSUMERS.

    Next.

    Do you every actually think before replying?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, because raising the bar is a valid tactical move. You suggested there was nothing. I proved you wrong.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Oz, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:36pm

    “Personally I think the prosecutors just found a way to adapt the law to their interest –"

    Definition of irony.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Of course he doesn't. Because clearly any country that doesn't have an industry the size of Hollywood and/or harsh penalties backed by lobbying organisations is a filthy pirate nation with no culture at all...

     

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  23.  
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    Karl (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 11:26pm

    Nice

    Finally, a law that actually serves the interests of the public. As a cherry on top, it also serves the interests of those who actually create artworks.

    It's such a good ruling, that I give it about a year before it's repealed.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 11:52pm

    Re:

    Lol. Portugese and portugese speaking music is actually quite significant. You know nothing about music, do you.

     

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  25.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 12:39am

    Re: Re: Hilarious

    Well our LLB (Legum Baccalaureus) is erroneously called a "Bachelor of Legal Letters" by all and sundry in Australia (and Canada/UK too I believe). Mainly due to the double L in the acronym.

    Though it might be erroneous it makes perfect sense when you realise exactly what the law (especially Civil) is all about and how much reading of old tomes, writing, being bored out of your skull, and what a general time sink letters are in the pursuit of 'law'.

     

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  26.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 12:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So, your criteria on how well IP law is working in a country is whether or not people who don't live in the country enjoy it (I presume you mean ignorant Americans like yourself who would ignore anything in Portuguese, right, and thus create a skewed marketplace for it?)? Does that mean that American IP law is working well since Hollywood pushes its crap worldwide?

    Funny how your criteria is not only ridiculous but changes depending on what you're talking about at the time...

     

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  27.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 1:00am

    To repeat my usual comments here - let's see, is Portugal a country that's well served by legal options or is it a country lacking legal options? What a surprise, even mainstream services like Spotify aren't available there.

    Yet again, the industry might want to think about offering legal options before they whine that people find ways to obtain content they can't legally obtain...

     

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  28.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 1:04am

    Re: Re:

    "Portugese and portugese speaking music"

    I suspect his comments are America-centric and he only considers what he personally comes across in his sheltered view. I bet he hasn't even considered the Brazilian market...

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2012 @ 2:27am

    Re: Re: Re:

    yeah. He probably also thinks latin-speaking, indian speaking, arab-speaking and name-any-large-non-english-speaking-cultural-block music, is non-existant. Often in countries where copyright is meaningless for their population.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2012 @ 2:29am

    one of the best and most sensible pieces of news i have read in ages. what a shame other countries dont follow suit. i bet Portugal will be top of the 'naughty boy' country list now, the ridiculous USA 301 list. that list needs to be stuffed right up the arse of the fucking moron that thought it up and then shredded! yes. in that order!!

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2012 @ 2:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    This "without copyright there'll be no creation" mantra is plain fear mongering from the corporate entities that lost their distribution control that previously justified their value.

    The common sense that it's the technical innovation of phonographs that spawned a whole new market for music and their ability to leverage it for mass distribution that was their added value is turned on its head. Why ? To hide the inconvenient truth their physical distribution trade no longer matters and they can't justify taking such a large cut of the actual creators right any longer either. They just try to sanctuarize the rights they've managed to capture from the creators in the past.

     

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  32.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 3:27am

    Re: Re:

    You'll probably find that Portugal has a big market in Brazil, just like other Latin American countries cross-seed cultural products. Or even English-language countries.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    ace, Sep 28th, 2012 @ 4:41am

    portuguese courts

    Everyone who lives in Portugal knows the court system is backed up for years; cases that get appealed [most cases do if there's any money involved] can take 20 years to get a final decision.

    There is a lot of pressure to clear the case backlog, so why would the prosecutor's office want to take on 2000 nuisance cases in this struggling economy?

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2012 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    Naturally, it is hard for a Portuguese speaking author to have a significant expressing in the English speaking world.

    But, if you weren't completely ignorant, you would acknowledge that many Portuguese authors enjoy much success in Portuguese speaking countries, and sometimes, even in other countries.

    Many of our best singers and musicians (Tony Carreira, Quim Barreiros, etc.) consistently make venues sell out in Portugal. Also, ever heard of José Saramago, the Nobel Prize winner? What about Manoel de Oliveira, the 100+ year-old film director of international acclaim?

    We have a healthy community of artists, and that is all that matters, in the end, correct? Because our laws are not meant to protect YOUR interests, they are meant to protect ours.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    relghuar, Sep 28th, 2012 @ 5:08am

    Ideal future...

    One day, all the countries of the world (except US) will be united on the USTR's Special 301 list... and the world will rejoice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, my colloection is now mostly made up of non-English speakers, thanks to the MAFIAA.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    noboy, Sep 28th, 2012 @ 5:18am

    Re: Nice

    Nahh, it's Portugal, here it will take at least 2 years, cause everything has to be in triplicate. We love our paperwork.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    DannyB (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 6:47am

    Re: Injustice!

    ACAPOR boss Nuno Pereira says:
    “Personally I think the prosecutors just found a way to adapt the law to their interest – and their interest is not having to send 2,000 letters, hear 2,000 people and investigate 2,000 computers,” Pereira says.

    What he wants is:
    Personally I think that ACAPOR just found a way to adapt the law to their interest - and their interest is in sending 2,000 letters, collecting 2,000 settlements and not having to investigate 2,000 computers and the individuals behind them nor provide a shred of actual evidence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    DannyB (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 6:49am

    Re:

    The American Entertainment industry doesn't have any business writing new laws for the people of Portugal, as they did for Spain.

    That is the job of the American Government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re:

    > > 10 years ago they decriminalized drug use only to
    > > see drug use in their country decline.

    > Drug use didn't decline, but the crimes attached to
    > drug use (robbery, assault, etcetera) did. By a lot.

    It then follows that decriminalizing* copyright infringement will not cause infringement to decline, but the crimes attached to infringement will decline by a lot (bribery, corruption, closed door meetings, laws written in secrecy, SOPA, ACTA, TPP, seizing domain names without evidence, settlement letters directed to IP addresses, mass John Doe lawsuits, etc).

    * copyright infringement is supposed to be a civil matter, not a criminal matter

     

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  41.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    Mr Geigner

    Tim, always a pleasure reading your articles. Another great one and the way you present things is so true of the maximalists in general.

    As an aside, I wish I still had my insider badge so I could join the chat (don't have spare money atm, going through grad school). So I wanted to say here and hope you see it that I finally got to read Midwasteland. I really enjoyed the book, and thank you for sending me the PDF awhile back.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    DannyB (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 7:01am

    Re:

    You're right about the haves and the have nots.

    It's a case of the haves (having corruption, bribery, laws written in secret against the public interest) telling the have nots how they should also bow down to the dying dinosaurs who are unable and unwilling to adapt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 7:07am

    Re: Mr Geigner

    No problem, KT, and thanks for the kind words!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    GMacGuffin (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Hilarious

    And yet, it still beats sitting through depositions (yawn...)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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