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Consumer Organizations And Internet Companies Mount Legal Challenge To Italy's Extreme Copyright Enforcement Regulations

from the fightback-time dept

Techdirt has been following for a while the saga of Italy giving its Authority for Communications Guarantees (AGCOM), which regulates broadcasting and telecommunications, wide-ranging new powers to police online copyright infringement too. That culminated in the first instances of Web sites being blocked without any kind of judicial review earlier this year. Since then, there has been an important development as civil organizations and Internet companies have mounted a legal challenge to the new regulations. One of the lawyers involved in these actions, Fulvio Sarzana, explains what happened:

On 26 September 2014, The Italian regional administrative tribunal referred the question regarding the constitutionality of the administrative enforcement procedures foreseen by a new regulation on online copyright infringement to the Italian Constitutional Court.

Here’s why:

the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio required the Constitutional Court to issued its judgment, since it held that the regulation might be unconstitutional, for violation of the principles of statute and judicial protection in relation to the exercise of freedom of expression and economic initiative, as well as for the violation of criteria of reasonableness and proportionality in the exercise of legislative discretion and of the principle of the court, in relation to the lack of guarantees and legal safeguards for the exercise of freedom of expression on the Internet.

Given that the constitutionality of the copyright regulations is in question, consumer and business organizations — Altroconsumo, Movimento di difesa del Cittadino and Assoprovider — have sent a formal request to AGCOM asking for the whole approach to be suspended until a decision is handed down. They argue that this is necessary in order to avoid the high costs that AGCOM would incur from being sued by those who have had their sites shut down, in the event that the regulations are found unconstitutional (original in Italian.)

AGCOM has refused to suspend the regulations completely, but it has slowed down the pace of its actions, as Sarzana notes:

in October 2014, the President of Agcom, Mr. Angelo Cardani, indicated that Agcom shall proceed “with caution” , addressing only cases “of real urgency”, pending the case in the Constitutional Court.

Although hardly satisfactory, that does show that even AGCOM realizes that there is a possibility its days of unbridled power to censor sites are numbered. Let’s hope so.

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Comments on “Consumer Organizations And Internet Companies Mount Legal Challenge To Italy's Extreme Copyright Enforcement Regulations”

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PaulT (profile) says:

“Web sites being blocked without any kind of judicial review”

Before the trolls arrive with their misdirection, I’d just like to note that it’s the second part of this sentence that most people have problems with, not necessarily the first (although many of us also think that’s still not the right solution).

Without name-calling, lying or distorting the facts, I wonder if any of the “other side” of this argument are yet capable of arguing otherwise. I’m yet to see such a defence.

Pragmatic says:

Challenge accepted, PaulT. You see, due process is such a pesky ol’ bind that it’s widely considered to be an impediment to justice. Damn it if you just know these people are guilty of infringement, shouldn’t that be enough? I mean, really — we’ve got pirates popping up all over the place like garden moles, and the longer it takes to take them down, the more of them there’ll be. Sooner or later we’ll hit critical mass, where there are so many pirates violating the Precioussss, I mean copyright, that we poor, poor middlemen won’t be able to fleece the artists and creators rightsholders won’t be able to collect rents from works we didn’t create ourselves make a living any more.

The problem with seeking alternative business models for artists and creators to make money from their work is that we don’t get a share of it. This sad and sorry state of affairs leaves us with little choice, then, but to block those websites that we even imagine might possibly be shamelessly stealing potential revenues from us.

A little sympathy for us devils, please. Imagine a world in which nobody ever makes content again for fear that someone else will use it to make money for themselves. It’s coming, pirates, and you’re making it happen. If I can just convince enough people to believe this, I can continue my rent-seeking in peace without being criticized for it on websites like Techdirt.

Ask before sharing this post. It’s copyright, you know.


Anonymous Coward says:

what needs a massive amount of consideration in this case, apart from the obvious ones is why this was introduced in the first place and who/which industry was the instigator? the answer is just as obvious, and the reason well known too. the unadulterated desire of the entertainment industries to take complete control of the internet, as it is the best distribution medium invented so far, along with the price-tag of ‘FREE’. once it gets that control, the website bans that would come into being within hours would be astronomical, and absolutely no site would be allowed to have internet status until it both was vetted by the industries and paid the exorbitant fees that the industries would undoubtedly charge! the whole idea then of why the internet was developed and the reasons for it would be wiped out in a heart beat!! such is the greed of the entertainment industries and such is the stupidity of politicians/governments!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

such is the stupidity of politicians/governments!!

While it would be political suicide to directly destroy the Internet, politicians are, or should be, well aware that it challenges their power by allowing citizens to self organize without the need for those parasitic classes, the politicians, and government bureaucracies.

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