OWNERS of websites in Spain found to be making money by providing links to pirated material will face tougher penalties under new laws.
Those found guilty could be jailed for up to six years, and have their sites shut down, as the authorities take heed of pressure from the US over the country´s piracy record.
It is the first time the Spanish authorities have targeted owners of sites that provide links to copyrighted material that is illegally distributed via other websites.
Previously, the law just targeted those who reproduce, plagiarise, distribute, or pass on copyrighted material, leaving those providing the links immune from prosecution.
Users, search engines and peer to peer users will be exempt from the new law.
The country has been under pressure to do something about piracy since it was placed on an international piracy blacklist in 2008 because of the high number of illegal downloads.
It was removed from the list when current prime minister Mariano Rajoy came to power and proposed tougher laws to deal with online piracy.
The new legislation, which is expected to come into effect by Spring 2014, was described as a balance between protecting copyright and new technologies by the country´s justice minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon.