Portugal has a piracy problem. The European country has been the focus of anti-piracy group ACAPOR for some time now. It all came to a head last year when the organization delivered over 2,000 IP addresses of alleged file sharers to the Attorney General's office. The Attorney General's office was silent for a year, but they have finally come to a decision.
The Department of Investigation and Penal Action has decided not to take action against the 2,000-plus IP addresses brought to their attention. Even better, the Attorney General ruled that file sharing for personal use isn't against the law. Here's the full statement provided courtesy of TorrentFreak:
“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.”
He went on to say that the right to education, culture and freedom of expression shouldn't be restricted in cases of non-commercial copyright infringement. The very thought of such a statement being uttered out of a public policy maker is astounding as countries around the world continue to demonize file sharers as street peddler bootleggers or even worse.
In another encouraging note, the office also said that an IP address is not a person. Various courts around the world have also come to this conclusion. It's been proven time and time again that IP addresses are not exactly foolproof when it comes to identifying a person. The RIAA knows this better than anyone else when they sued a dead woman based only on the IP address.
For their part, ACAPOR thinks the Attorney General's office is just being lazy. The organization says that the "prosecutors just found a way to adopt the law to their interest." They claim that the Attorney General's office just didn't want to send 2,000 letters or hear 2,000 cases.
Either way, it shows that Portugal is once again being one of the most progressive nations on Earth. In 2000, the country decriminalized all personal drug use. The change in law led to a decrease in drug related violence and crime while leading to a decrease in recreational drug use among teenagers. The decriminalization of file sharing for personal use may just have similar effects, but only if content providers make it easy for Portugese citizens to access the content legally and easily.