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Portugal: File-Sharing For Personal Use Legal, IP Address Evidence Not Enough

Posted by: , 15:21 AEST, Sat September 29, 2012

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Portugal declares personal file sharing to be completely legal, and that IP addresses are insufficient to identify the individual responsible in any case
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Image/Photo Credit: dantekgeek @ Flickr, CC

Despite a publicity stunt by Portugal's local anti-piracy agency, ACAPOR, to shame the country's Attorney General into tackling the web piracy problem, prosecutors have decided not to pursue those they say are only downloading for personal use. 

Last year, ACAPOR delivered boxes and boxes containing the printed list of IP addresses of those accused of piracy to the country's Attorney General, done while wearing "Piracy is Illegal" T-shirts. While the stunt delivered the publicity that the group wanted, it has however not delivered the needed results.

Having investigated the complaints from ACAPOR regarding "illegal file-sharers", the Department of Investigation and Penal Action now says that the complaint is not worth pursuing in court.

As a further embarrassment for ACAPOR, the country's prosecutor clarified the country's stance on personal piracy, and ruled it completely lawful. 

"From a legal point of view, while taking into account that users are both uploaders and downloaders in these file-sharing networks, we see this conduct as lawful, even when it’s considered that the users continue to share once the download is finished," the prosecutor's office explained.

The prosecutor also questioned the validity of IP address evidence, saying that an IP address "is not necessarily the user at the moment the infringement takes place, or the user that makes available the copyrighted work, but rather the individual who has the service registered in his name, independent of whether this person using it or not."

ACAPOR was naturally disappointed in the decision, accusing the prosecutors of taking the easy option, as opposed to pursuing the thousands of individuals whose IP address had been recorded and submitted to the authorities.


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