The Italian Communications Regulatory Authority (Agcom) has approved a draft regulation on copyright protection on the Internet which was at the centre of a recent protest.
The new regulation has been revised in order to delete some of those ambiguities that have fuelled the debate among critical commentators. In more precise terms the Authority stressed that the new rules provide no measures for prohibiting access to websites hosting contents in violation of copyright.
The Authority also highlighted the limits of the relationship between its administrative intervention and the Judiciary’s supreme powers.
The new measures for the protection of copyright on websites will be divided into two parts:
In the first stage, the so-called “notice and take down stage”, the legitimate copyright holder will send a request to the website administrator for the removal of material considered in violation of copyright. Should the website administrator acknowledge that the rights of the reported content are in fact attributable to the alleged copyright holder, the website administrator may remove the contents of his own free will within 4 days of the request being made.
Should any problems arise during the first stage, the parties may apply to the Authority, which, following a clear and transparent cross-examination phase of ten days, will in the following 20 days (which may be extended by up to 15 more) issue a selective order to remove the illegal content or alternatively to return it, depending on which of the requests is accepted.
This procedure is considered as an alternative to and not as a substitute for judicial process and will be suspended in the event of an appeal to the Court by either party.
This new Agcom regulation observes the principle of fair use and does not therefore apply to non commercial or nonprofit websites, to educational or scientific sites, or in cases of exercising the freedom of reporting, commenting, criticism or discussion.
In addition, It does not concern cases where partial reproduction of a work, whether in quantity or quality of content compared to the complete work, is not detrimental to its commercial exploitation.
The authority specifies that the measure in no way involves end users, nor does it relate to peer-to-peer applications.
Following passage, the regulation is now subject to 60 days of public consultation from the date of its publication in the Official Journal, the aim of which is to acquire further proposals and comments from stakeholders.