Thursday 3 March 2011

Italy deliberates on online content protection

Today the deadline expires for responses to a consultation by the Autorit√† per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM) on the protection of copyright online. Issued on 17 December 2010, the consultation paper sets out AGCOM’s proposals to address online piracy. The paper describes a notice and takedown procedure which would give pirate sites 48 hours to take down infringing material which, in default of takedown, would be followed by an investigation and possible decision by AGCOM.

AGCOM also proposes that where sites are wholly devoted to pirate content or are situated abroad, then in extreme cases it could initiate adversarial proceedings leading to the blocking of the site by ISPs. Although the paper makes reference to the abortive discussions in the UK in 2008 pursuant to the “Memorandum of Understanding” (arguably an ironic title, as it turned out), it does not mention its similarly unsuccessful equivalent in Italy, the “P@tto di Sanremo” of March 2005. Under the Sanremo Pact, Italian ISPs and right holders agreed various actions to prevent online piracy and promote online content. The Pact contemplated the taking of measures by ISPs against Internet piracy and the establishment of contractual terms for the termination or suspension of subscribers for breach of copyright.

The consultation paper does not mention the Graduated Response, which would seem off the agenda in Italy. By way of alternative solution, AGCOM proposes extended collective licensing. The scheme would allow consumers to subscribe to an Internet access account with a licence attached permitting downloading. According to AGCOM, contracts should permit the sharing of such content (“i contratti dovrebbero garantire l’autorizzazione per determinati utilizzi online di opere protette, quali la riproduzione o la messa al disposizione del pubblico nel quadro di attivit√† di file sharing.”)

One assumes that AGCOM has received a fair number of submissions explaining that a licence for public communication in Italy would effectively be a global licence.

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