The Web is always evolving, but so are web pirates. Thanks to cutting-edge technologies, they can circumvent most controls and restrictions. It is therefore essential for authorities to adopt new rules, penalties and technologies to prevent hacking. In this respect, AGCOM (the Italian communications authority) Commissioner Antonio Preto announced that new regulations aimed at fighting online piracy will be published soon. Among other things, the introduction of a new type of trial has been proposed, which would halve the length of the decision-making process concerning copyright infringement through the Internet.

The new order will be particularly effective against illegal sites, providing for trial proceedings lasting no longer than 35 days. The aim is not to shut down entire websites, but rather to disable access to infringing links. At present, the new draft regulation has yet to be approved, but will be presented on May 24 2013 at a workshop that will bring together Italian and international experts to discuss this topic and provide useful material to set out possible further actions in an open and transparent context.

AGCOM had already put forward several regulatory scenarios, including a proposed period of 60 days for completion of trial proceedings against suspected infringers. However, the European Commission rejected this proposal, thus making way for the present proposal to halve the timeframe to 35 days.

The new mechanism proposed by AGCOM would commence upon receipt of a detailed notice, further to which AGCOM would, within two days, give a formal notice to the pirate website. The request will specifically refer to the relevant files (eg, films, music, software or any other kind of illegal content). After receiving the notice, the website's owner will have 10 days to defend itself before AGCOM. The remainder of the trial will last no longer than 25 days.

Online piracy is a significant problem, with estimated profits of €2.815 million a month for illegal streaming websites and €1.734 million a month for illegal file-sharing websites (according to a 2013 Hadopi report). The new method proposed by AGCOM will prove crucial for abating damages and, for this reason, the main focus is on the speed of the proceedings, as works are at their maximum value in the first seven days of being made available for download.

The new regulation will also combat the advertising that fuels online piracy. This will be done by notifying brokers and networks such as Google, Yahoo!, Media Shakers and OpenX to remove illegal websites from search indexes. Inspections would also cover payment systems (eg, PayPal) and credit companies (eg, Visa) in order to halt violations in the premium service market. A further objective could be to obtain an agreement from publishers similar to those signed in Belgium and France, which provide for a remuneration fee for the content indexed and viewed on Google News. In short, AGCOM has started to take significant steps to achieve transparency in the online sector and put an end to online piracy.

For further information on this topic please contact Vittorio Noseda or Carlo Grignani at NCTM Studio Legale Associato by telephone (+39 02 72 5511), fax (+39 02 72 55 1501) or email (v.noseda@nctm.it or carlo.grignani@nctm.it).