Intellectual property law change and process: The case of Spanish Ley Sinde as policy laundering


  • Katharine Sarikakis University of Vienna
  • Joan Ramon Rodriguez-Amat University of Vienna



Policy Laundering, Intellectual Property, Anti-piracy regulation, Spanish regulation, global media policy


This paper argues that the notion of ‘policy laundering’ can be applied to current attempts for the establishment of a new copyright legal order and takes as example the changes to intellectual property law in Spain. The article discusses the complexity of interactions between international and domestic relations within and beyond formal structures of policy–making in amending the legal framework in Spain: First, European directives set the pace and context as well as the legitimacy to initiate policy reform at the national level. At the same time, it is the catalytic role of other external actors and specifically the U.S. Embassy in Spain and the 301 Special Report in steering and re–activating policy change towards a particular direction. Internal developments, a combination of reactions from an — unintended — public debate and opposition offered by leading cultural actors as well as change of government, caused challenges to the passing of the law. The main focus of Law Sinde, the Spanish IP law as it became known, was to tighten control around individual usage of copyrighted material. To facilitate this, its strategy was to control technological use by intervening on three distinct levels, on the level of the user, the level of institutions and the level of jurisdiction. The IP law change is not simply a case of national law, but one that highlights global governance interdependence and the struggle for hegemony among corporate, state and civil society interests.

Author Biographies

Katharine Sarikakis, University of Vienna

Professor of Media Governance

Dept of Communication

Joan Ramon Rodriguez-Amat, University of Vienna

Assistant Professor




How to Cite

Sarikakis, K., & Rodriguez-Amat, J. R. (2014). Intellectual property law change and process: The case of Spanish Ley Sinde as policy laundering. First Monday, 19(3).