The attempt by the Spanish government to arm itself with special powers for closing down web sites is still proceeding. This is despite the impressive success in the Spanish blogosphere of the manifesto that was launched in protest against the proposed new law. Just 24 hours after the manifesto was issued the culture ministry had already convened a meeting with some of those behind it, and then prime minister Zapatero stepped in with an assurance that no web site would be closed down without judicial intervention. The original proposal would have left the decision solely to a committee appointed by the ministry.
So far, however, the changes to the legislation in response to the critics are minor and it is clear that the government is still seeking to avoid any comprehensive judicial review of their decisions. The current version will present the proposal to close a site to a judge only for a ruling on whether closure breaches "fundamental rights". The judge only has four days in which to respond on this issue. This detail is little short of amazing, there are supposedly "fast-track" courts in Madrid which are currently giving dates for the year 2013 to ordinary citizens with a grievance to pursue, yet when the entertainment industry wants to shut down a site the judge has to give it maximum priority! Truly a two-tier system.
The government is also being very coy about the composition of the committee that will decide whether a website is engaging in piracy. No details of who will be on it are going to be released before the legislation is passed, leading to suspicions that it will be packed with industry representatives. The latest response from opponents of the plan is explained in the web page Red SOStenible. The government's plans form part of the new Ley de Economia Sostenible which was supposed to be the flagship legislation that would set out a new model for the Spanish economy. It will be ironic if it becomes most remembered for being nothing more than a tool used to defend an outdated model for an industry that still doesn't know how to cope with the internet.