Business News Legal

Italian regulator proposes much more severe takedown system rule

By | Published on Thursday 31 October 2013


While the American music industry continues to bemoan the limitations of the country’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the takedown system it describes, which has become a global standard for user-upload websites seeking to circumvent liability for copyright infringing content they might host, an Italian body called AGCOM, loosely translated as the Electronic Communications Authority, is proposing something much more severe.

Many rights owners in the US – and elsewhere, given the DMCA system is employed beyond America – complain that the American law sets too few standards for websites which operate takedown systems. Which means that websites can get away with operating deliberately shoddy systems, ensuring their sites have, at any one time, plenty of user-uploaded copyright infringing content (to attract traffic), knowing they are still protected from any infringement litigation.

The AGCOM proposals, which have been submitted to the European Commission for feedback, would seemingly set a 72 hour deadline for websites to respond to takedown notices. If they failed to do so, the telecoms regulator would have powers to seize or force blockades against offending websites, and also to force net firms to reveal the identities of a site’s operators.

The proposals are already proving controversial in some quarters, especially as under the plan the regulator could act without taking their cases to court. Of course the whole point is that the process could be super speedy, but in most jurisdictions it has been ruled that only a court should have the power to take a website offline, and a similar ethos has previously been expressed at an EU level.

It remains to be seen how the AGCOM fares at both an Italian and European level in getting these proposals off the ground. Though if they do, rights owners across Europe could start pushing for similar measures in their own countries.