Spain's socialist government is drawing up the country's first national anti-piracy plan, involving 11 ministries, police and the courts, major music business bodies, Internet service providers and te

Spain's socialist government is drawing up the country's first national anti-piracy plan, involving 11 ministries, police and the courts, major music business bodies, Internet service providers and telecoms.

Culture minister Carmen Calvo presented a five-point plan to the music industry here on Dec. 29, and a final set of measures will be presented in March after modifications and consultation among government bodies.

Calvo will hear new proposals from the music industry and the ISPs on Jan. 20. The following day, the proposals will be sent to the other 10 ministries involved. Between them, the ministries are expected to agree to the final anti-piracy plan by March; the proposal will be presented by the government before Easter.

The music industry here has been calling for a government-led crackdown on piracy for some time. "Better late than never," says Pedro Farre, director of the anti-piracy unit at authors' and publishers' society SGAE. "It is a very positive measure."

Spain is the hardest hit by piracy among the world's top 10 music markets, according to the IFPI. Physical piracy levels are estimated at 25%-35% of all sales. SGAE says 200 million illegal MP3 files were downloaded in 2003, and that figure is certain to have soared in 2004.