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Italy launches anti-piracy platform Piracy Shield

Piracy Shield operators and providers to block content

Italy has launched its anti-piracy platform, Piracy Shield, which forces operators and providers to block content.

Last summer. the Italian government introduced the toughest law so far against Internet piracy, directed mainly against pirated IPTVs that allow you to watch football for free or cheaper 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 the fines against users just for using pirated IPTV , the law contemplated the creation of a blocking system , called ‘Piracy Shield’, which was criticized by the country’s operators for the effect it could have on the technology sector. and the enormous cost that would be incurred in its operations. 

While the legal challenge that these companies have presented is resolved, the development of this platform has finally ended.

As an example of how quickly the law was developed and approved, when it came into force there was really no way to comply with it, since it referred to a system that did not exist at that time.

However, the Italian government wanted to send a message coinciding with the start of the European leagues, and hence the ‘express’ approval. In the same way, the start of the Piracy Shield took place on the same day as the classic match between Juventus and Naples last Friday.

The biggest block 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 notified operators that Piracy Shield was operational ; although, initially, that was not noticed. 

Piracy Shield is a platform that allows rights owners to order the removal of ‘piracy’ content directly from operators and service providers; Therefore, it does not require judicial authorization, since the mere notification of the rights owner 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 it occurs as little as 30 minutes after notification ; This is the main point criticized by the operators, who claim that they will have to dedicate many employees just to respond to these notifications.

An important detail of Piracy Shield that differentiates it from other similar laws is that it is not directed only at operators. Any ‘service provider’ involved in the distribution of ‘pirated’ content must act within the established period after receiving notification; and that 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 IPTVs and it has not been clarified if it will actually adopt the Piracy Shield.

The providers of these services have so far been protected by European law and have won lawsuits in countries such as Germany, which have determined that they are not responsible for the content accessible thanks to these technologies. 

There are serious suspicions about the legality of the Italian text in the European framework , especially after it became known that the European Commission had requested clarification.

At the moment, the effects of Piracy Shield are limited because carriers have yet to implement 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 Spain, LaLiga and Movistar+, are already pushing for Spain to have a very similar law against IPTV .