Chris Evans takes a look at piracy in Spain, one of the world’s worst offenders.

Spain is one of the world’s biggest piracy offenders with an estimated 350 million illegal film downloads in 2008, costing the Spanish industry around $1bn in lost revenue, according to the country’s anti-piracy association, FAP.

Yet the situation may change radically following two key appointments: Angeles Gonzalez Sinde, a former Spanish film academy president, has been made culture minister, and Ignasi Guardans has been installed as head of Spain’s film institute, the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts, Neither believes legislation is the answer to the piracy problem. “The fight against piracy will never come out of a single piece of legislation,”
says Guardans. “If somebody thinks a government will come out with a magic formula, they’re completely wrong.”

So far, just one prosecution has been made against a Spanish site administrator, who was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $6,500 for profiting from copyright infringement on his site

It seems Gonzales Sinde is prepared to take drastic action. She has said she is considering a move to make the sharing of digital content illegal — outlawing all peer-to-peer sites. Spain’s internet users’ association, the Asociacion De Internautas, has reacted with outrage, saying the move would infringe civil liberties.

For their part, Guardans and film-maker Alex De La Iglesia, the newly appointed president of the Spanish film academy, are keen to point out the end user is not necessarily to blame, but insist the industry itself needs to provide better legal alternatives.

“The best way to tackle the growing number of illegal downloads is for film-makers to do their films in HD and offer them for download on the same day as their cinema release for as little money as possible, like iTunes currently does,” suggests De La Iglesia. “The problem is that the Spanish industry doesn’t know how to exploit the internet as a business yet.”

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