Unanimously approved by the Chamber of Deputies back in March and then unanimously approved by the Senate earlier this month, Italy’s new anti-piracy law has just been unanimously approved by telecoms regulator AGCOM.
In a statement published Thursday, AGCOM welcomed the amendments to Online Copyright Enforcement regulation 680/13/CONS, which concern measures to counter the illegal distribution of live sports streams, as laid out in Resolution 189/23/CONS.
The new provisions grant AGCOM the power to issue “dynamic injunctions” against online service providers of all kinds, a privilege usually reserved for judges in Europe’s highest courts. The aim is to streamline blocking measures against unlicensed IPTV services, with the goal of rendering them inaccessible across all of Italy.
“With such measures, it will be possible to disable access to pirated content in the first 30 minutes of the event broadcast by blocking DNS resolution of domain names and blocking the routing of network traffic to IP addresses uniquely intended for illicit activities,” AGCOM says.
Dated July 14, 2023, the law (LEGGE 14 luglio 2023, n. 93) underpinning the new measures will come into force on August 8, at which point AGCOM says it will be able to disrupt the pirated broadcasting of all events transmitted live, whether sport-related or otherwise.
“With this amendment, in perfect synchrony with the changes introduced by Parliament, AGCOM is once again at the forefront of the European scene in combating online piracy activity,” says AGCOM Commissioner Massimiliano Capitanio.
Nationwide dynamic blocking measures aren’t the only changes heading Italy’s way.
Penalties For Challenging AGCOM’s New Powers
When AGCOM issues blocking instructions to service providers, their details will be passed to the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Rome.
After carrying out AGCOM’s instructions, those providers will be required to send a report “without delay” to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. It must detail “all activities carried out in fulfillment of the aforementioned measures” along with “any existing data or information in their possession that may allow for the identification of the providers of the content disseminated abusively.”
In other words, ISPs will be expected to block pirates and gather intelligence on the way. Failure to comply with the instructions of AGCOM will result in a sanction as laid out in LEGGE 31 luglio 1997, n. 249 (Law 249 of July 31, 1997); an administrative fine of 20 million lira to 500 million lira, or in today’s currency – €10,620 to €265,000.
Those involved in the supply/distribution of infringing streams will now face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to €15,000. That’s just €5,000 higher than the minimum punishment intermediaries risk should they fail to follow blocking instructions. Notably, it’s still €250,000 less than the maximum fine a service provider could face if they fail to block piracy carried out by actual pirates.
Watch Pirate Streams? There’s a Fine For That
Unlike the United States where simply consuming pirated streams probably isn’t illegal, in 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed that consuming illicit streams in the EU runs contrary to law.
With new deterrents in place against operators of pirate services and otherwise innocent online service providers, Italy has a new deterrent for people who consume pirated streams. From August 8, 2023, they risk a fine of up to €5,000. At least on paper, that has the potential to become quite interesting.
IPSOS research carried out in Italy over the past few years found that roughly 25% of the adult population consume pirate IPTV streams to some extent during a year.
Italy has a population of around 59 million so even with some aggressive rounding that’s still a few million potential pirates. How evidence of this offense can be obtained and then attributed to an individual is unclear.
Presumably, the intent is to target people who buy IPTV packages, but in any event, the overriding aim is to deter any involvement in illegal streams, no matter where they begin, or where they end.