Italy: Senate to vote on anti-piracy bill that gives 30 minutes to respond to pirates

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Important anti-piracy legislation advanced from Italy’s Chamber of Deputies to the Senate chamber, proposing criminal and adminstrative penalties against convicted pirates and a ‘shot clock’ aimed at terminating instances of piracy within 30 minutes of detection.  The vote was unanimous.

The Federation for the Protection of Industries of Audiovisual and Multimedia Content (FAPAV), Italy’s main anti-piracy organization, had been quite vocal in encouraging the bill’s passage, saying that the cost of piracy to Serie A alone approached €1bn in the last three years.  Approval would become “an example for other countries of the European Union,” said Federico Bagnoli Rossi, FAPAV president.

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Key provisions of the legislation include:

  • Legal authority: New powers would be given to Agcom, Italy’s communications authority, to order “service providers, including network access providers, to disable access to illegal content,” as well as “search engine operators and information society service providers involved in any capacity in the accessibility” of illegal websites and services.
  • Timely response: With the timely application of available technology and practices, to intervene against piracy “… no later than 30 minutes from receipt, disable access to the reported websites, with simultaneous automatic redirection to an internet page prepared according to the methods indicated by the Authority.”
  • Advanced technology: The combination of cooperation and technology, including “collaboration of members of the Guardia di Finanza and to the Postal and Communications Police.”  AGCOM already runs a site blocking program which reportedly blocks more than 3,000 domains.
  • Education would be given in schools across Italy, to inform students of the concepts of intellectual property and copyright

Meaningful penalties

Criminal penalties proposed in the draft law include detention for a minimum of six months, ranging up to a three year maximum; a fine of up to €15,493.  In addition, there would be an administration penalty ranging from €10,000 to an amount equivalent to 2% of the revenue made in the most recent fiscal year before the offense.

Offenders that upload stolen content or offer illegal streaming of live events, and end users may be fined up to €5,000.  Camcording carries a prison sentence of up to 3 years.

Events leading to this legislation

Legislation relating to the protection of copyright over electronic communications networks in Italy goes back to an April 2003 decree (Resolution 445/22/CONS) which has received subsequent amendments.  The current legislation resulted from a public consultation that was launched in December 2022 which collected responses through January and early February 2023.

Unanimous vote

The impact of piracy in Italy

An Ipsos study commissioned by FAPAV and released in 2022 found that there were about 72 million piracy instances, including films, series programming and live sports programming from 2019 to 2021. Sports programming alone grew from 10% to 15% during that period, reaching 11 million instances, with a loss estimated at €267 million.

FAPAV’s study also estimated that the cost of piracy to Serie A has been almost €1bn in the last three years. Interviewed by SportBusiness, Luigi De Siervo, CEO of Lega Serie A football, said “This is a monster amount. These are figures that would allow us to further strengthen our clubs and increase the number of champions playing in our league.”  The study also estimated that the government lost about €319 million in tax revenue.

Further reading

Anti-piracy law, first OK of the House. (Agcom commissioner says): ‘A strong sign of legality against digital mafias.’ Article. March 23, 2023. Key4biz (Supercom), Italy

Online piracy, fines of up to 15 thousand euros and stop streaming in 30 minutes. Text in the classroom on March 20. Article. March 16, 2023, Key4biz (Supercom), Italy

Launch of a public consultation on the Resolution scheme amending the regulation on the Protection of copyright on electronic communication networks and implementing procedures pursuant to Legislative Decree No. 70 of 9 April 2003 referred to in Resolution No. 680/13/cons, Resolution no. 445/22/CONS.  links to 17-page PDF and three annexes that contain details and metrics. Released December 20, 2022, AGCOM, Italy

Italy: 2021 IPSOS FAPAV study says piracy of live sports is €267 million.  June 22, 2022. Piracy Monitor.  Links to the original FAPAV press release containing details

Why it matters

The 30 minute takedown target sounds aggressive but should not be a surprise.  The bill observes that “the value of broadcasting live sporting events (just as an example, think of the football championship in Italy) is consumed almost entirely with the live broadcast itself, to which the attractiveness of the product sold to the public is connected. This is also evident in the commercial practice which enhances the contents above all with live broadcasts and only marginally with subsequent exploitations. Therefore, illegal streaming of sports content is particularly harmful in the first 30 minutes in which it is made available to users.”

Serie A’s Luigi De Siervo said it would be a milestone in the league’s own four-year campaign, which has invested heavily in anti-piracy technology, “and … a legal team capable of attacking the entire supply chain to the point of imposing significant economic fines on end consumers who inevitably leave digital traces of access to illegal sites and apps.”

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