Thanks to Wikileaks’s distribution of diplomatic cables between the United States and Spain, we now know that the U.S. government heavily influenced the drafting of Spain’s copyright legislation. Now, a leaked letter, dated December 12, 2011, indicates the U.S. ambassador’s anger towards the Spanish Prime Minister’s office for failing to pass the Sinde Law, a SOPA-like site-blocking law the U.S. helped draft. (The exiting Spanish President, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, wasn’t believed to be likely to pass the legislation before his term ended.)
In the letter, U.S. Ambassador Alan Solomont expressed “deep concern” over Spain’s failure to enact the law and said, “The government has unfortunately failed to finish the job for political reasons, to the detriment of the reputation and economy of Spain.” He went on to note that Spain was already on the “Special 301” report, compiled annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative. This report details trade barriers based on intellectual property issues. And lastly, he threatened Spain with placement on the “Priority Watch List”, should Sinde not be passed. Such a move would subject Spain to retaliatory actions for breach of trade agreements.
Spain’s incoming Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, passed the legislation within ten days of taking office. Perhaps this had something to do with another leaked letter, from the American Chamber of Commerce in Spain, warning of potential flight of foreign investment from Spain if action wasn’t taken to pass the intellectual property law quickly. At least Sinde appears to require review by a commission to investigate copyright claims before a case is brought before a judge, unlike its SOPA counterpart. Still, its disturbing that our government feels the need to reach out internationally to mold legislation we haven’t even agreed on in our own country yet.