After failing to bring online piracy under control by threatening and suing individuals, the international music and movie industries have turned to a fresh set of targets. For the foreseeable future they will set their lawyers on Internet service providers instead, hoping that they can be threatened or sued into achieving what they failed to achieve in a decade.
In Italy, Fapav (Federazione Anti-Pirateria Audiovisiva) is currently embarking on one such mission. It has gone to the Civil Court of Rome asking it to compel Italy’s largest ISP, Telecom Italia, to take unprecedented action to deal with subscribers the anti-piracy group claims are infringing their members’ copyrights.
Fapav has several demands. It wants Telecom Italia to monitor their users and eventually report those who file-share to the authorities, block a whole host of sites (including The Pirate Bay, 1337x and isoHunt) and collaborate with them in the future to fight piracy. If it does not comply, Fapav wants the ISP to pay 10,000 euros per day by default.
Fapav insists that Telecom Italia has not done enough to stop its users from file-sharing and point to their own monitoring research which indicates that “hundreds of thousands” of the ISP’s subscribers had downloaded around 1.6 million copies of copyright movies.
Telecom Italia is refusing to comply and in turn has accused Fapav of breaching the privacy of its subscribers by spying on them, referencing an earlier case where German record label Peppermint Jam spied on Internet users via Swiss monitoring firm Logistep in order to extract money from them.
The label was ordered to stop by the authorities who deemed the activities to be illegal.
Paolo Nuti, President of ISP association AIIP, told Repubblica that Fapav were trying to force ISPs to become “sheriffs of the Internet” while taking responsibility for the activities of their subscribers. He went on to criticize the anti-piracy group’s unauthorized monitoring, stating that in his view Fapav had not only violated the norms of privacy but also committed a crime punishable by up to six years in prison.
The positions of both sides will be tested next week. The hearing will take place before the Civil Court of Rome on February 10th.