Portugal Declares File-Sharing for Personal Use Legal
After the anti-piracy group ACAPOR reported IP addresses of 2,000 suspected file sharers, the Portuguese Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DIAP) has come to a somewhat surprising conclusion: not only will these file sharers not be prosecuted, but it seems that file sharing for personal use is not illegal in Portugal.
The DIAP prosecutor argues that copyright should not restrict the “right to education, culture, and freedom in cyberspace”. While the report doesn’t specifically cover uploading original content, it is legal to both download and to share the content, for example via torrent seeding. Quoted in Exame Informática, the report says:
“Furthermore, from a legal point of view, even in these networks where a user both uploads and downloads files, the act is lawful [...] even if they don’t cease sharing after having finished downloading.”
The prosecutor further praises the actions taken in reporting these suspected file-sharers, as this has enabled a re-invigoration of a much needed reform of copyright law in the digital age. The report also points out that an IP address does not represent a human being, but a computer network. It also claims that the ACAPOR were required to give proof that the media shared was declared as not to be shared publicly.
The ACAPOR are not happy with the result. Director Nuno Pereira claims that as many of the files were films which at the time were running in cinema, “it would be common knowledge” that they were not to be shared. They severely critisise the DIAP outcome, arguing that “the prosecutors just found a way to adapt the law to their interest – and that interest is not having to send 2000 letters, hear 2000 people and investigate 2000 computers.”