Little more than 6 months ago the AGCOM Regulation for the protection of Internet copyright came into force (Regulation on the protection of Internet copyright on electronic communication networks and procedures implementing the provisions of the legislative decree of 9 April 2003 n. 70’ - resolution 680/13/Cons). The aim of the Regulation was the ‘development of the legal offer of digital works and the education to their correct use’, yet the most important innovation introduced by the Regulation is a special procedure which violations of copyright online would take a quick hit from, in particular mass violations caused by online websites. In addition to the possibility to order the removal of the single work considered to be in violation of copyright from the website, the Regulation’s big novelty consists in the possibility to act against websites hosted on servers located in foreign countries, towards which authorities can now impose blockages by ordering the service providers of mere conduit to arrange the disabling of access to such sites.
Up until this day over 100 cases have been received of which over two thirds have resulted in an AGCOM procedure. Most of these were resolved relatively quickly (the average being 30-45 days). By examining the various procedures, it is evident that this is a very efficient system, most of all for preventing mass online copyright violation.
However the fate of the Regulation depends upon the judgement of the Constitutional Court. Last 26 September the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio, on request of several associations, decided to submit the matter to the Constitutional Court. The decision in question is quite articulate and raises many issues, but essentially it regards the correct balance between the protection of the owners of intellectual property rights spread on the internet, and the right to free expression of opinion recognised in sections 2 and 21 of the Italian Constitution. In particular, the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio found that procedures like those introduced by the AGCOM regulation should be approved by Law since such rights are protected by the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court’s decision will be crucial, and hopefully the numerous rights and interests involved will be adequately balanced. As AGCOM commissioner Antonio Nicita recently stated, "the Internet ecosystem raises two opposing needs, that of the protection of owners of intellectual property, and that of freedom of access for those who use that information as an input for innovation purposes. This means that if the protection of the right is eccessive it may destroy new markets and innovation processes".