The Italian government surprised last summer with the toughest law yet against internet piracy, aimed primarily at pirated IPTVs that allow watching football for free or at a lower cost than with official options. Since its passage, the most controversial parts of the law have barely been noticed, but that is about to change.
In addition to fines imposed on users only for using pirated IPTV, the law envisaged the creation of a “crazy” blocking system, called “Piracy Shield”, which was criticized by the country’s operators for the effect he could have on the technology sector. and the enormous cost that its operations would require. While the legal challenge presented by these companies is resolved, the development of this platform is finally complete.
In a sign of how quickly the law was developed and passed, when it came into force there was really no way to comply with it, because it referred to a system that did not exist at the time; but the Italian government wanted to send a message coinciding with the start of the European leagues, hence the “express” approval. Likewise, the start of the Piracy Shield took place on the same day as the classic match between Juventus and Napoli last Friday.
The biggest blockage against IPTV
In recent months, the development of this platform has been carried out at a forced pace. After several delays and questions about its operation, the Italian telecommunications regulator, Agcom, finally informed operators that Piracy Shield was operational; although at first it was not noticed.
Piracy Shield is a platform that allows rights holders to order the removal of “pirated” content directly from operators and service providers; This therefore does not require judicial authorization, since the simple notification of the rights holder is considered sufficient notice for the service provider to act accordingly and execute the blocking. The ultimate goal is to automate the process of blocking and removing pirated content so that occurs only 30 minutes after notification
An important detail of Piracy Shield that differentiates it from other similar laws is that it is not aimed only at operators. Any “service provider” involved in the distribution of “pirated” content must act within the specified time after receiving notification; and this includes VPN services, DNS and even internet search engines like Google. According to Agcom, Google has promised to eliminate search results and eliminate access to advertising, although it must be remembered that Google already has a system to block IPTV and that it has not clarified whether it will indeed adopt the Piracy Shield.
But this is perhaps the weak point of the new law. The providers of these services have until now been protected by European law and have won cases in countries such as Germany, which determined that they were not responsible for the content accessible through these technologies. There are serious suspicions about legality of the Italian text within the European frameworkespecially after learning that the European Commission had requested clarification.
At the moment, the effects of Piracy Shield are limited because operators have not yet implemented compatibility with Piracy Shield and their own systems, but Agcom has been very clear that There will be no exceptions. Meanwhile, the owners of football rights in Europe, LaLiga and Movistar+, are already pushing for Europe to have a very similar law against IPTV.
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