When Italy’s pirate IPTV blocking system eventually gets off the ground, it’s possible that up to hundreds of thousands of TVs, computers, mobile phones, and tablets will at some point return a blank screen; a disappointing alternative to the pirated football streams usually on display.
Given the scale of the media coverage over the last couple of years, that’s unlikely to surprise many of the 25% of Italians addicted to piracy-configured devices, known locally as ‘pezzotto’. As pirates begin to adapt, normality will return for some or even many users, but the determination of Italian authorities will ensure that piracy will be less straightforward and more stressful than it was before.
Specifics are currently unknown but as they say in Italy: “Il si giudica quando lo si mangia.”
Authorities & Rightsholders Must Educate the Masses
Piracy Shield obviously won’t be 100% perfect, but it won’t be going away anytime soon either. However, the law supporting the blocking system isn’t just about infuriating a quarter of the population, it seeks to enlighten too.
The law dictates that Italy’s Ministry of Culture and telecoms regulator AGCOM must collaborate with “representative professional organizations” at the national level to deliver public awareness campaigns.
With a special focus on public service broadcasting channels, the PSAs are required to educate the Italian public (including teenagers in secondary schools) on the value of intellectual property, and the damage caused by illicit IPTV services, streaming sites, and counterfeiting in general.
Educational Outreach Targets ‘Common Man’
This week the first PSA was released into the wild. It features a “common man” watching a pirate football stream on a laptop, whose enjoyment is abruptly curtailed by an on-screen message declaring him a “bad, bad user.”
For non-Italians and/or non-football fans, the guy giving the impromptu home lecture is football legend Bobo Vieri, a Serie A Player of the Year and former striker with 123 goals in 190 games to his name.
“Still with the pezzotto? Don’t help criminals, kick piracy,” Bobo says.
“Combat illegal streaming together with Bobo Vieri, [you] do it too,” the viewer is advised.
“Piracy Feeds on Citizens’ Lack of Awareness”
Italy’s Department for Information and Publishing partnered with AGCOM to produce the PSA, which aims to starve the piracy ecosystem by educating the public on why piracy is so damaging.
“Digital piracy feeds on the lack of awareness of citizens who are not fully aware of the enormous damage caused by this illegal activity,” the government department explains.
“This is why the advert we are presenting today, created by the Department for Information and Publishing in collaboration with AGCOM, focuses on the common man who watches a match on an illegal site without realizing the consequences.”
Familiar Face Delivers the Message
The decision to hire Bobo Vieri to front the campaign is fundamentally sound. Serie A, the football league that stands to benefit most from the new law, was Bobo’s home for almost his entire career, so most football fans will already know and respect him.
Since it happened over a decade ago, most will have completely forgotten that a Serie A club worked with an Italian telecoms company to tap Bobo’s phone, but mercifully, didn’t completely block it.
The launch of the campaign was celebrated by AGCOM on LinkedIn, where the regulator surprisingly brought up how expensive pay TV subscriptions are.
“Every single act of piracy delivers money and data to the mafias, steals from the economy €1.7 billion every year and takes away 10,000 jobs. If many subscriptions are considered expensive, it is also due to the weight of millions of parasites,” explained AGCOM chief, Massimiliano Capitanio.
While no mention was made of the vast increases in revenue the site blocking program was predicted to deliver when proponents pushed the new law over the line, AGCOM’s linking of high piracy rates to high prices should be of comfort to fans.
As Serie A revenues go up, subscription prices will obviously begin to fall, at least based on the logic of the uninformed common man.