A legal twist appears to ensure that Spain will continue to offer massive headaches to anti-piracy campaigners and untold joy to the growing number of Internet users and operators who swear by what they call "free culture."

A Barcelona judge has kicked out a complaint against a small and largely unknown Web site that was made by the all-powerful collecting society SGAE.

The court did not just reject SGAE's demand about the accused site, elrincondejesus.com, which had a link to the eDonkey file-sharing network. It ruled that Web sites, with links limited to offering the possibility of downloading through a P2P network, do "not mean either distribution, or reproduction, or public communication of the works subject to intellectual property, since it is a mere index that facilitates the search for P2P files to exchange via the system of menus, posters or covers with the titles of films or musical works."

That is, once again, the Spanish stance on online piracy is that it is not illegal if there is no profit motive.

Elrincondejesus.com is run by the Web site and bar owner Jesus Guerra. The judge in this case, Raul N Garcia, was firm: "The system of links constitutes the very basis of the Internet and a multitude of sites and search facilities (such as Google), allowing the technical possibility of doing precisely what this procedure is trying to prohibit, which is linking P2P networks."

SGAE has not responded to the ruling, but it is expected to appeal.

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