banners against the new Spanish Minister of Culture
Just a day after the announcement of her position as minister of culture, Ángeles González-Sinde, former president of the Spanish Academy of Cinema has much of the Spanish Internet community against her. Over 6,000 people have joined the Facebook group Ángeles González-Sinde pírate and the blogosphere has been working overtime, with 100’s of critical posts about her nomination in a re-shuffle by President Zapatero which comes come down firmly on the side of shoring up obsolete institutions instead of trying to resolve the crisis in the country by innovative solutions.
Screenwriter González-Sinde has already declared on many occasions that P2P is responsible for the decline of Spanish cinema and has said that the only people interested in high-speed Internet are pirates. She is a strong supporter of the much criticised ” canon” – a tax paid by citizens on computers, dvd/cd players, cd’s/dvd’s etc. whether they use these things to download movies or make their own. This levy is administered by the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), a highly controversial un-elected body which claims to represent the rights of authors, musicians etc.
Critics of the new minister have repeatedly refuted the idea that downloading has any effect on the Spanish film industry, with many of the commentators on Facebook pointing out that people do not download Spanish movies or music because of the low quality. The Spanish film industry has been in crisis for many years and essentially continues due to grants. Others have pointed out repeatedly that downloading material for personal use IS NOT ILLEGAL in Spain.
As the new minister has said that the French three strikes system is a good idea, that higher quality broadband connections are not important and that that the canon is too low, the battle looks to be just beginning. It is interesting, and interpreted as a giant step backwards here, that when governments around the world are beginning to use the “web 2.0” and see fast & cheap Internet as an investment for the future, that the beleaguered Zapatero administration would place someone with the opinions of González-Sinde in such a prominent position. Many see it as part of the Spanish culture of “enchufes”, favours and connections and “debts”, which riddle society at every level, the old system determined to fight for the privileges that it has constructed.