Not this again. The Italian government has long had trouble comprehending how YouTube is simply a platform for users. Of course, some might say this is willful ignorance. Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi owns Italy's largest private broadcaster, Mediaset, and doesn't much like the competition. In fact, back in 2008, Mediaset sued Google
over its content appearing on YouTube, and a year ago, an Italian court (surprise, surprise) sided with Berlusconi and ordered YouTube
to remove all Mediaset content, though it doesn't explain how YouTube is to know what is and what is not infringing. Of course, this is also the same country where a politician wanted to sue thousands
of YouTube commenters for making fun of him under a video on YouTube. And, most famously, Italy is the country that bizarrely and inconceivably found Google execs criminally liable
for a video posted to Google Video.
The latest in the Italian government's war against YouTube is that it's declared that YouTube qualifies as a TV station and is subject to television regulations
(Google translation of the original Italian
, found via Slashdot
). What this means is that not only will YouTube/Google have to pay a tax as a TV broadcaster, but it now has other regulatory controls, including an obligation to publish "corrections" within 48 hours to anyone who claims they were slandered, and an obligation to not broadcast "inappropriate" content during times when children might watch.
But, of course, the biggest issue is that it says that if there's any
editiorial control, even automated (so I assume the "favorites" or "recommended" lists count), suddenly, YouTube becomes liable for all of the content. In other words, in order to help Berlusconi win his lawsuit against YouTube, Italian politicians have effectively changed the law to make sure that YouTube is now liable for the content of third party users. This effectively means that the risk of running such a platform in Italy becomes ridiculously high. I imagine Google will fight this in the courts, but at some point, it makes you wonder if Google wouldn't just be better off leaving Italy altogether, and seeing how folks there feel about its government's decisions.