Leaked letter shows US government threatened Spain with trade sanctions to force it to favour passing an anti-piracy law
The US government appears to be bullying other countries into introducing legislation along the lines of the US Stop Online Piracy (SOPA) legislation.
A leaked letter published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais implies that the US could be planning trade sanctions against Spain for its failure to pass the Sinde law, a SOPA-style piece of legislation that would allow the Spanish authorities to close Websites serving copyright material.
In the missive, the US ambassador Alan Solomont (pictured) pointed out that Spain is on his country’s Department of Commerce “Special 301” list of nations with a poor record of defending intellectual property (IP). He then indicated that Spain could be further downgraded to join countries that are subject to a “priority watch”. This would put the country among “the worst violators of global intellectual property rights”.
The veiled threat being that membership of the priority group can have serious trade sanctions penalties. These include the elimination of tariff agreements and a referral to the World Trade Organisation. The current priority list includes Russia, China and India. The 301 contains 28 countries which includes other financially embarrassed European Union members Greece and Italy.
Solomont wrote, “The Government of Spain made commitments to the rights owners and to the US Government. Spain can not afford to see their credibility questioned on this issue, Rampant Internet piracy hurts the economy of Spain and its cultural heritage.”
In December, the outgoing Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero decided not to implement the Sinde law – named after minister of culture Ángeles González-Sinde. The decision was overturned a couple of weeks later by his successor Mariano Rajoy.
The US appears to have been applying pressure on Spain for some time. In December 2010, the Wikileaks disclosures revealed that appeals to introduce a Sinde-like law first started in 2007.