Spanish RIAA sues and wins blog comment case

Julio Alonso, the founder of the leading Spanish blog network Weblogs SL, has been fined €9,000 plus legal costs for comments made by other people on his personal blog.

What makes the story more interesting is that Alonso was sued by SGAE, (the General Society of Authors and Publishers), the Spanish equivalent of the RIAA. The post that ultimately led to the court case was made way back in 2004, and was titled SGAE=Thieves. That post then hit the top of the Spanish version of Google for the term “ladrones” (Thieves).

It’s not clear from the email Julio sent me (nor the links provided) exactly what the comments were, and as of July 4 they were removed per the court order. What I did make out (with some Google translate help) is that the court found that the 22 comments posted by readers in response to that post had damaged the ‘honor’ of SGAE. Alonso still has the right to appeal against the sentence.

The questions then raised: is it safe for anyone is Spain to offer open comments on a blog? and is this even a legal under European law?

If you speak Spanish, you can follow the case on Julio’s blog here, and I’ll be keeping in touch with Julio as the appeal is put together (I’ve been following Weblogs SL since the early Blog Herald days). I’m not sure if there is anything we can do from outside of Spain, but I’m sure many will join me in offering moral support to Julio at this time.