Users of pirate IPTV services in Italy risk a €5,000 fine starting in August.
The telecommunications regulator of Italy, AGCOM, has officially given its stamp of approval to the country’s brand-new anti-piracy law.
This law positions Italy as a vanguard in the European battle against online piracy and IPTV, as acknowledged in a statement released by AGCOM on Thursday.
The law is set to come into effect on August 8, allowing nationwide ISP blocking during live events and giving the state the power to levy fines of up to €5,000 on individuals using pirated streams.
Previously, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate had unanimously passed the law in March and earlier this month, respectively.
The telecommunications regulator AGCOM has now unanimously endorsed it, solidifying Italy’s commitment to counter the unlawful dissemination of live sports streams, as delineated in Resolution 189/23/CONS which amends Online Copyright Enforcement regulation 680/13/CONS.
The fresh clauses empower AGCOM to impose “dynamic injunctions” on all online service providers.
This power, usually held by the judges of Europe’s top courts, is intended to expedite the blocking measures against unlicensed IPTV services, making them inaccessible throughout Italy.
AGCOM noted the following:
“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.”
As per LEGGE 14 luglio 2023, n. 93, the law that underpins these new measures, AGCOM will have the capability from August 8 onwards to interrupt the illegal broadcast of any live events, sports-related or otherwise.
AGCOM Commissioner Massimiliano Capitanio stated, “With these amendments, and in perfect synchrony with the changes brought about by Parliament, AGCOM reaffirms its leading position in the European scene against online piracy activity.”
However, the nationwide dynamic blocking measures aren’t the only modifications heading Italy’s way.
Consequences await those who challenge AGCOM’s newfound powers. When AGCOM issues blocking orders to service providers, their details will be handed over to the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Rome.
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Following AGCOM’s orders, the service providers must promptly submit a report to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
This report should include a comprehensive list of “all activities undertaken in compliance with the aforementioned measures” and “any data or information in their possession that could help identify the providers of the content disseminated abusively.”
This means ISPs are expected to not only block pirates but also gather intelligence along the way.
Non-compliance with AGCOM’s directives will attract a penalty as per LEGGE 31 luglio 1997, n. 249 (Law 249 of July 31, 1997); an administrative fine ranging from 20 million lira to 500 million lira, or in contemporary currency – €10,620 to €265,000.
Those implicated in supplying/distributing infringing streams now stare at a potential sentence of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to €15,000.
This penalty is just €5,000 more than the minimum punishment intermediaries face if they disregard blocking instructions.
Interestingly, it’s still €250,000 less than the maximum fine a service provider might receive if they fail to block piracy perpetrated by actual pirates.
In contrast to the United States, where merely watching pirated streams might not be illegal, the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed in 2017 that consumption of illicit streams in the EU is against the law.
In a bid to discourage piracy, from August 8, 2023, Italy has implemented a new measure that could fine individuals who consume pirated streams up to €5,000.
According to IPSOS research conducted in Italy over the past few years, roughly 25% of the adult population accesses pirate IPTV streams to some extent annually.
Considering Italy’s population of around 59 million, even with aggressive rounding, there are still potentially millions of pirates.
The method of obtaining and attributing evidence of this offence to an individual is unclear.
Presumably, the primary target will be those purchasing IPTV packages.
Regardless, the overriding objective is to discourage involvement with illegal streams, regardless of their origin or endpoint.
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