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Court says Italian web-blocking is just fine

By | Published on Tuesday 4 April 2017

Web-block

The Italian web-blocking system is just fine, OK? And anyone who’s been moaning about it can just shut up. Or appeal the recent ruling in the country’s administrative court, I guess.

As previously reported, web-blocking – where internet service providers are forced to block their customers from accessing certain copyright infringing websites – is a popular anti-piracy tactic within the music and movie industries in any country where such blockades have been made available. Some countries have introduced new copyright laws to enable web-blocking, while in other places – like the UK – the courts decided that existing rules allowed injunctions to be issued that order web blockades on copyright grounds.

Though in most countries where web-blocking is available a court is involved in issuing the web-block order against an ISP, meaning that either the internet provider or the targeted website could formally oppose the blockade in front of a judge; though they rarely do. However, in Italy communications regulator AGCOM was given the power to issue the web-block injunctions, which in theory makes the process simpler for the rights owner.

Since AGCOM got that power in 2014 there have been vocal opponents to the Italian web-blocking process, and in particular the lack of judicial oversight involved. Various consumer rights and other organisations argued that the process was unconstitutional and to that end set about trying to block the web-blocks through the courts.

However, an Italian court has now ruled that AGCOM’s web-blocking powers are not in conflict with either the EU’s E-Commerce Directive or Italian copyright law, or the Italian constitution. Which means rights owners can continue to request web-blocks from AGCOM, and the communications regulator can continue to issue web-blocking orders.

The boss of Italian record industry trade group FIMI, Enzo Mazza, has welcomed the ruling, telling Torrentfreak: “This is a big win for rightsholders. Our future goal is now to increase the enforcement of AGCOM to also cover new forms of piracy such as live streaming, stream ripping and similar issues”.

Those who oppose AGCOM’s web-blocking powers have already vowed to appeal the ruling, though Mazza says he is confident other courts will also back the anti-piracy process.



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