Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New copyleft ruling in Spain

One more case in the ongoing battle in Spain between SGAE and small bars over copyleft music. Derecho de Internet reports on this latest appeal by the SGAE against a bar in Madrid called "Buenavistilla Social Club". The collecting society initially lost the case and therefore appealed to have the ruling reversed. In the latest sentence, the court argued that evidence presented by the defendants indicated that the locale played alternative music, also known as "música libre" or copyleft, and therefore dismissed the appeal and allowed the initial ruling to stand.

There are two interesting points made by the decision. The first is that apparently the court was swayed by the fact that the bar in question was not a commercial venture, but was part of a non-profit organisation which held social and cultural events in the venue, which leads one to believe that this may prove to be a useful distinction to make in future cases. The second element is the growing sophistication of Spanish judges with regards to copyleft and other alternative licensing concepts. The ruling states:

"With the copyleft clause the owner allows, through a general public licence, the transformation or modification of his/her work, placing an obligation on the responsible for the modified work to make it available to the public under the same conditions, that is, allowing its free access and its adaptation. With Creative Commons licences, the rights-holder reserves his/her right for commercial exploitation, and can even forbid adoptions of the work. Therefore, one must distinguish between Creative Commons licences and the copyleft clause. There will be some Creative Commons licences which include a copyleft clause." (translation mine)
This is very accurate depiction of the nuances in the licensing models, and to my mind it shows that judges in Spain grok the concepts involved. I am heartened by the fact that Civil Law jurisdictions seem to be at the forefront of open licence and copyleft litigation, as evidenced by the many positive results for open source and open content in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. If we also consider the rulings in France and Finland with regards to DRM, and some of the English cases with regards to software patents, I would like to put forward that Europe is experiencing a resurgence in progressive court decisions in Cyberlaw.

But what do we know, everyone knows that Europe is filled with pinko-commie liberals...


Geeklawyer said...

Wow!! That is an impressive statement by the judge. Hope, and believe, the same would be true in the UK.

Andres Guadamuz said...

Probably an English judge would draft a number of questions for Larry Lessig and include them in the ruling :)