Spain's battle against digital piracy has scored a double victory at the third International Forum of Digital Content (Ficod) in Madrid, a three-day event organized by Red.es that ends tomorrow (Nov. 19) and which is expected to attract over 12,000 visitors.

Labels' body Promusicae presented a new portal, www.elportaldemusica.es, offering the latest charts and streaming of music from 60 labels, links to online download stores and editorial content in a move to encourage legal online digital payments.

"We are giving visibility to the legal offer of music [in Spain]," says Promusicae president Antonio Guisasola. "We want to dispel the urban legend that piracy exists because there is no legal alternative."

It is not an online store, but offers streaming as well as links to legal services. These include YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Yes.fm, Vodafone Music, Nokia Music Store, Movistar, Orange, MySpace, Jet-Multimedia and Rockola.fm.

"Elportaldemusica.es constitutes a dynamic source of information and allows users to know immediately the latest recordings of our favorite artists, and the latest trends in the Spanish record scene," adds Guisasola.

Furthermore, culture minister Angeles González-Sinde announced that a new Web site containing legal digital content including millions of tracks and films, with a special focus on U.S. cinema, will be inaugurated before the end of this year.

The culture ministry will help finance the site, but the content and technology will be supplied by the entertainment industry's Coalition of Creators and Content Industries - who clarified the timeframe and stressed their role in the project.

Coalition director Joan Navarro says, "It is logical that as a politician she [González-Sinde] did not mention the Coalition, but we have come to this agreement. And even though she said it would be up by the end of the year, that is impossible. We're sticking to out initial goal of the first quarter of 2010".

A key aspect of González-Sinde's announcement of "a huge platform of access to legal [digital] content [giving] the public a greater offer in better conditions" was that the Spanish model "will not criminalize the users," but will seek to penalize the pirate Web sites that offer content for illegal downloading. This has always been Redtel's position, and was accepted earlier this year by the Coalition.

This means the government, through its culture ministry, has ended years of inactivity and is moving towards the postures of both the culture industry (Coalition of Creators and Content Industries) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) grouped in Redtel.

The idea for such a Web site came originally from Redtel, which declined to cooperate with the Coalition on anti-piracy measures until there was "an adequate legal and cultural content Web site" in place.

The Coalition, which includes Promusicae, authors' and publishers' collecting society SGAE, plus film, videogame and software rights organizations, said in the summer it would elaborate such a site offering legal, paid downloads.

The Promusicae portal offers music-related content only and is separate from the proposed Coalition web site.

The crucial time factor is that on Jan. 1, 2010, Spain assumes the six-month presidency of the 27-nation European Union, during which intellectual property law protection is likely to be a leading topic at a telecommunications summit in Madrid in May. In October, it set up an inter-ministerial commission to report by Dec. 31 on violations of Spain's intellectual property laws.

In a further development at Ficod, industry minister Miguel Sebastián announced that from Jan. 1, 2011, every Spanish citizen will have a legal right to broad-band Internet access of at least 1 megabyte per second (Mbps).

Although it is an important achievement for the digital content industry, at present only 39,000 of Spain's 9.5 million broadband owners have speeds below 1 Mbps.

The first Ficod attracted 4,000 visitors in 2007, and this number climbed to 10,000 last year.

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