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Anti-piracy law: what changes and what risks for those who use pirated content

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Anti-piracy law: what changes and what risks for those who use pirated content

Request. Matteo Flora, if you had a pirated season ticket to watch matches, would you be more worried today? “Yes, without a doubt. Maybe I would be less so if I paid for my private subscription with cryptocurrencies. But I’d still be worried.” Flora’s answer contains a bit of the radical change induced by the new one anti-piracy law. Or “anti-pezzotto” law, as it has already been renamed.

Flora, entrepreneur, popularizer, is among the most authoritative voices in Italy when it comes to the Internet. But also copyright, a sector he has dealt with for many years. And on the law approved in the late evening of Wednesday 22 March in the Chamber with 252 votes in favor and no against, it is certain, with some clarifications: “It is well written, I think it will work”.

Follow the money

Why will it work? “Because it’s based on a principle that works. The follow the money”. Follow the money and you will find guilty and accomplices. Diffusers of pirated services and owners ofpezzotti. Having read the law, we divided it with the help of Flora into five fundamental points. Technical, regulatory, principled.

The provision approved by the Chamber confers on the State the task of protect intellectual property in its various forms. In a clear passage, the text states that with the law “the Republic is called to recognize intellectual property in all its forms, to protect copyright, to support businesses, authors, artists and creators, to make network intermediaries responsible for making the activities to combat the illicit dissemination and counterfeiting of contents protected by copyright more effective, as well as to promote communication campaigns and public awareness”.

As? Protecting it in its forms, making network operators responsible, tightening penalties and giving greater powers to the judiciary. All aspects that move on a single matrix. Again, follow the money. And a technical aspect to understand: the blocking of illicit content at the IP address level. We will start from here to understand the rest.

1. Blocking of illegal content at IP address level

The anti-piracy law targets sites that illegally disseminate (for free or for a fee) content covered by copyright. Like matches. Until now it was possible for an authority (for example, Agcom) to request that a site be blocked. Blacked out. It could be done, however, at the level of Dns. Now you can do it at the address level Ip. A little technical difference, but fundamental.

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What does it mean? “Example: the Calcioillegale.com site refers to one or more IP addresses,” explains Flora. ip (which stands for internet protocol), is a numerical code that identifies a site, a local network or a device. The Dns Server instead it is a system that translates the name of a site (Calcioillegale.com) into an IP address. Generally it is provided by the service provider (Telecom, Wind etc..).

Until now it was possible to request a block at the DNS level, and the provider sent anyone attempting to access the ‘Calcioillegale.com’ site to another IP address, which made the user see the screen: “This page has been seized”. However, this move by the authorities was all too easily circumvented by those who broadcast pirated content online.

“There are alternative DNS services: from Google, from Cloudflare. You replace them once and instead of going to the provider’s DNS you go to another one, which never blocks requests”, explains Flora. The why is a complex matter and is part of the big rules violated by big service providers who don’t always want to submit to national laws. But now, IP-level blocking changes the game. Because you go to block the site address directly, without going through the DNS.

2. Agcom and the creation of an emergency proceeding

The Communications Regulatory Authority (Agcom) will have the power to order service providers to disable access to illegally disseminated content, including by adopting urgent precautionary measures. then theAgcom receives an alert and he can immediately notify the judiciary.

Why it’s important: “Let’s always take the case of Calcioillegale.com. Generally on the home pages of those sites there are links that refer to other sites: Calcioillegale101.com; 201Calcioillegale.com etc. All pre-recorded, and there are thousands of them”, Flora continues. The central issue here is time. If the authority first received a report of a pirate site, it could intervene to block it only at the next meeting, perhaps after several days.

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Now he can emergency. “The difference is that if before until the provision the content had been violated and disseminated for its entire time (for example, a football match, 90 minutes), now the block and reporting to the judiciary are immediate. And the blocking can happen immediately”, explains the computer scientist. 30 minutes, this is the time it will take.

3. The role of the judiciary and the risks for the user

What happens at that point? In addition to the providers, the judiciary is immediately alerted. The sending of deeds of fact is a crime report. And we can only imagine at the moment how many will be sent.

But the theme is that this passage changes the game once again. And it will allow the investigating authorities to work on the key aspect of the whole law. The follow the money. “To see who is behind a service, who supplies it, you can go and see the payments”, explains Flora. That is, who paid for the service, who received money, who supported the dissemination of the material. In short everything.

This is where the end user can begin to fear for himself. Because if for privacy reasons it is not possible to trace him via the IP address (which is a bit like an identity card for those who surf the net), it can be done through his payments. All thanks to the modification of an article. What will allow you to ask banks and other institutions or services to have the personal data of those you want to investigate.

The law covers a regulatory vacuum”, explains Flora again. “The streaming of copyrighted content is equated to the duplication of CDs. Adding to the standard “duplicates” a “makes available”, and “supports”, such as CDs, a “services”. Whatever they are.” Game closed.

4. The harsher penalties

Here we let the text speak for itself: “Whoever executes illegally […] the fixing on digital, audio, video or audio-video support, in whole or in part, of a cinematographic, audiovisual or editorial work or carry out the reproduction, execution or communication to the public of the illegally performed fixing “for profit” will be punished with imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years and with a fine of euro 2.582 a euro 15.493”.

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While for anyone identified as a user of services of this type (in short, anyone who has bought thepezzotto or any season ticket of this type), the sanction passes from 1.000 a 5.000 euro. In Italy it is calculated that they are 5 million users of pirated services for streaming games, orpezzotti.

5. Critical aspects. The concept of editorial work and IP blocking

One of the most discussed topics is this law introduces a new concept of “editorial work”, alongside and equated to the concept of “cinematographic, audiovisual” work, victims of piracy. In any form. According to Flora, this introduction could open up unprecedented scenarios: “Anyone who could potentially in the future ask for infringement of one of its products. Imagine a content creator” as there are on Instagram or TikTok, well “they could sue a newspaper site for having appropriated their video and ask, and maybe get, that it be obscured”. Scenarios.

While another aspect is perhaps a little more concrete. And it seems to alarm a lot those who try to defend rights online. Here, however, we must return to the somewhat complex question of the IP addresses. Often those who provide piracy services rely on services that somehow ‘hide’ the IP address of origin under another address. A hat though, under which there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of others. And therefore by blocking the IP address of a pirated TV site, other sites could be blocked, perhaps that of non-profit associations which seek to protect themselves in hostile states to protect themselves.

Flora, however, is not convinced by this criticism. : “It can happen, but only by mistake. Because the standard is done right. And it specifies that the blocking must take place on those IP addresses ‘uniquely intended for illicit activities’. If I were a civil rights association I would check the application of the law, not the law itself. Because those single harsh words, uniquely intended, change everything”.

Twitter: @rcangelorociola

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