Lazio
07 April 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Italian court backs legality of administrative website blocks


The Italian Authority for Communications Guarantees, known as AGCOM, can order ISPs to block websites deemed to be infringing copyright, without judicial review, the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio has ruled.

The Italian government introduced legislation in 2014 that gave AGCOM the authority to block websites on behalf of rights holders without having to go to court.

The regulation faced criticism soon after it was introduced, with consumer rights groups and organisations, including Altroconsumo, challenging it in court.

But in a ruling last month, the Lazio court said that the regulation is “in compliance with EU rules”.

The Lazio court said: “In order to ensure effective protection of copyright, the provider is required to cooperate with the judicial authority or the administrative authority having supervisory functions in the event that it becomes aware of alleged illegal activities undertaken or information concerning a recipient of its services.”

The court said that this highlights the requirement of the “continuing existence of AGCOM” and the regulation.

AGCOM commissioner Antonio Martusciello “welcomed the favourable outcome of the case”.

“[AGCOM] will continue to operate with the balance that has characterised it to date by acting as a guarantee to the creative industry and favouring lawful forms of cultural products.”

Enzo Mazza, chief of the Italian Music Industry Federation (FIMI), said it was a “good decision” that had balanced a range of arguments, including violation of the technical reasonableness principle, the right of defence, against various EU regulations and directives.

Mazza said: “The judges examined point by point all the objections raised by lawyers of consumer associations and online brokers, confirming, once again, the goodness and absolute balance of the AGCOM model at the European level.”

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