The Court of Appeal has overturned a controversial decision against Yahoo! Italia that had raised worrying questions about the liability regime for internet service providers (ISPs) in Italy. The Court of Rome had found the company liable in relation to an alleged breach of IP rights for its failure to remove links to websites that allowed the streaming, downloading or peer-to-peer transfer of the film About Elly (for further details please see "Yahoo! Italia liable for searchable content").

The court held that:

"the limitation of liability introduced for the benefit of ISPs (ie, the liability exemption prescribed by the E-commerce Directive (2000/31/EC)) is mainly aimed at avoiding a new case of objective liability (ie, liability without negligence) that is not identified in the law or, at least, contributory liability on the part of providers for unlawful content published by third parties that make use of the ISP's... service."

The court also held that if IP rights holders wish to request the removal of allegedly unlawful materials, they must not only prove that they lawfully hold the rights in the copyright-protected work, but also identify the infringing links in question, rather than making a generic allegation of a breach.

The decision will be of particular interest to ISPs, as it touches on topics that have previously been the subject of much-discussed court decisions. Moreover, it comes only a few days after the Communications Authority's publication of new draft regulations that aim to introduce a notice and takedown procedure for copyright breaches.

For further information on this topic please contact Giulio Coraggio at DLA Piper Italy by telephone (+39 02 80 61 81), fax (+39 02 80 61 82 01) or email ([email protected]).