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Italy blocks Mega after getting off of the Special 301 Report Watch List

by on21 July 2014 1697 times

You knew it was going to happen, but I am honestly surprised that it has happened this soon after the special 301 report recommendations came out. Italy has decided to issue a nation-wide block of sites that are suspected of piracy. One of the sites thrown into the mix is Kim Dotcom’s new cloud hosting service Mega. The measure was ordered by Court of Rome Judge Constantino De Robbio and includes 24 sites in its scope.

What is the most interesting about this order is how it came about. According to some information all of this happened from a single complaint which involved two films. This would seem to be a rather extreme measure for a couple of films. In the case of Mega it is even more unusual as they have an EU and DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) compliant take down process that allows copyright holders you quickly remove infringing content.

However, as we mentioned, the action comes shortly after the recommendations for changes to the special 301 list hit. In 2013 Italy was on the watch list because they were “among the highest rates of online piracy in the world”. The report went on to say: “The United States underscores the importance of taking action to finalize and implement the AGCOM regulations to create an effective mechanism against all types of copyright piracy over the Internet.” The upshot of this is that the US would continue to restrict trade and other niceties with Italy until they made changes that the US Copyright industry wanted to see. One of these are a system that allowed for national level domain blocking.

In the 2014 report Italy actually received an out-of cycle reconsideration. This recommendation now removes them from the watch list. The wording of this is interesting: “IIPA recommends that USTR remove Italy from the Special 301 Watch List, in recognition of its adoption of Internet anti-piracy regulations that include a fast-track procedure to address large-scale piracy in 12 days or less.”

The IIPA also wants Italy to add in the following: “Eliminate legal obstacles for rights holders to take appropriate civil actions for the protection of their rights in the online environment, including by gathering non-personally identifying IP addresses and, consistent with the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision in the Promusicae v. Telefonica case, identities of infringers to establish underlying infringement in cases against major infringing web operators”

Yup you read that right, eliminate legal obstacles to allow companies to directly sue individuals and to gain their IP information from ISPs. Nothing bad can happen with that right?

The list does not end there though. The IIPA wants Italy to show that it is serious by quickly removing any content and/or sites that might be infringing. They are not all that concerned if they really are, but they want quick action and they want it documented.

“Upon entry into force of the AGCOM online copyright regulations, publish quarterly reports documenting:
(i) notifications that have resulted in removal of infringing material from hosted websites;
(ii) notifications that have resulted in removal of links to infringing material;
(iii) the number of cases resolved by expedited procedure; and
(iv) actions against repeat infringers.”
One of the items that seems (to us at least) to be a pointer right at Mega is: “Coordinate government bodies at a high level, and encourage cooperation to continue important criminal actions and injunctions against illegal P2P and linking services.”. We have to wonder if at some point in the original conversations Mega was specifically named in the requirements for removal form the watch list.

We know the US copyright industry is mad at Kim Dotcom and would not be above a little bullying to hurt anything he is involved with. As they can no longer go after Mega in the way they did Mega Download they have found another method. Mega does have the right of appeal and in the past orders like this have been overturned, but that was before the special consideration by the IIPA. Dotcom might not be successful in getting this reversed. Fortunately there are some simple ways around this type of DNS level blocking so things are not over for Mega in Italy just yet.

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Last modified on 22 July 2014
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