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.
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.