Wednesday 10 April 2013

Italian Communication Authority announces draft online copyright regulation by end of summer

Italian copyright fans will remember that previous commissioners of AGCOM (Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni - Italian Communication Authority) struggled with the adoption of an administrative regulation to protect copyright over the internet for quite a long time, but no such regulation was adopted before the end of their office last year (here, here, here).

One of the main problems encountered by AGCOM was its apparent lack of competence to legislate in the area of copyright. Former AGCOM president and erotic poet Corrado Calabrò indeed asked the Government (and Parliament) to clarify this point and, more in general, the nature and extension of AGCOM powers in the area of copyright.

Nothing of this sort has happened yet.

New AGCOM president Angelo Cardani
New AGCOM members were elected last June, following a reform of the structure of the Authority itself which resulted - among other things - in the number of commissioners being reduced from 8 to 4. Despite budgetary cuts, the idea of an online copyright regulation appears still vivid in both the minds and hearts of new AGCOM members.

Last December, new commissioner Maurizio Decina spoke about various copyright issues. Besides his opinion that ISPs should not be required to pay royalties for displaying links to and snippets of contents, Decina declared that, while Italian Government should clarify the nature and extension of AGCOM competencies in the field of copyright, he announced that - even this should not happen - the Authority would go ahead and adopt a specific regulation anyway.

Average (and slightly stressed)
Italian copyright lawyer
can't wait to see the draft regulation
After the end of an endless and cold winter (at least for Italian standards), yesterday AGCOM president Angelo Cardani announced that by this summer the Authority will issue a draft regulation on online copyright protection, which will then be subject to public consultation. This will happen even without a legislative intepretation of the actual competencies of the Autority in the area of copyright. As explained by Cardani, 

"when dealing with technical aspects and fundamental rights, perhaps it would be better for the Parliament to be in charge, but previous Parliament did not want to address these issues (or rather, it was busy otherwise), and we do not know what current Parliament intends to do. Therefore technicians [these being AGCOM members] will do their job. We will safeguard pluralism and right of access, and we will not have any doubts or hesitations [to go ahead and adopt an online copyright regulation]".

Will this really happen? Still according to Cardani, so far the new Authority has always kept its promises, and this will be the case also for the online copyright regulation.

We have then to wait a few more months to see the draft regulation unveiled. In the meanwhile, it is worth recalling that debate about copyright enforcement is currently taking place a bit everywhere. US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante recently announced the need for the US to update its copyright system, including enforcement provisions (here and here). Likewise, following an orientation debate, at the end of last year EU Commission agreed a way forward for modernising copyright in the digital economy and, among other things, announced the need to discuss how to improve the legitimacy of enforcement in the context of wider copyright reform.

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