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YouTube Legally Considered a TV Station In Italy 254

Posted by Soulskill
from the legislation-to-facilitate-prosecution dept.
orzetto writes "Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that YouTube and similar websites based on user-generated content will be considered TV stations (Google translation of Italian original) in Italian law, and will be subject to the same obligations. Among these, a small tax (500 €), the obligation to publish corrections within 48 hours upon request of people who consider themselves slandered by published content, and the obligation not to broadcast content inappropriate for children in certain time slots. The main change, though, is that YouTube and similar sites will be legally responsible for all published content as long as they have any form (even if automated) of editorial control. The main reason for this is probably that it will force YouTube to assume editorial responsibility for all published content, which facilitates the ongoing € 500M lawsuit of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi against YouTube because of content copyrighted by Berlusconi's TV networks that some users uploaded on YouTube. Berlusconi's Spanish TV station, TeleCinco, was previously defeated in court on the grounds that YouTube is not a content provider."
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YouTube Legally Considered a TV Station In Italy

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  • by nonzzero (1946796) on Friday December 31, 2010 @06:14PM (#34724912)
    The best response to this would be "No more YouTube for Italy!"
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 31, 2010 @06:20PM (#34724954)

      Do you really think this isn't the intended result of this law? Silvio "Mr. Corruption" Berlusconi owns most major TV stations in Italy. He's in the perfect position to get rid of competition.

      • What is Italy going to do? Block foreign YouTube servers from Italy? I'm sure the general public is going to be really impressed by that.
      • by Yvan256 (722131) on Friday December 31, 2010 @06:40PM (#34725152) Homepage Journal

        I never understood how governments allow such conflict of interest... if you're a politician, your job is politics. Owning companies should make you ineligible to work in politics in the first place, or there should at least be requirements to occupy a function that's completely unrelated to the companies you own.

        • Where do you draw the line, though? For example, would you demand all politicians cash out their 401k's or other stock-holding investment accounts because technically they own a company in those arrangements? "Owning a company" is a litigiously vague statement, and anything less broad could be viewed as discrimination.
          • by Tacvek (948259)

            How about drawing the line at 1% ownership and/or 1% control (since some stock classes may give more votes than others, but still have equal ownership in the company). 1% is also not entirely arbitrary, IIRC that figure is used in some law or regulation regarding having a "significant interest" in a company. It is a high enough figure that regular retirement investing will not cause a problem, but yet it also excludes owning enough of a company to make abusing political power seem worthwhile.

          • I would suggest obligating them to have any and all holdings in a blind trust. [opensecrets.org] That's actually almost a de facto requirement in the US right now, in order to comply with disclosure rules [house.gov].

          • David Eddings suggested the ultimate version of this in the Tamuli series in the Second Chapter of 'The Shining Ones'

            On the Tegan government:

            'Our elected officials have no outside interests. As soon as they're elected, everything they own is sold, and the money's put into the national treasury. If the economy prospers during their term in office, their wealth earns them a profit. If the economy collapses, they lose everything'
            'That's absurd. No government ever makes a profit.
            'Ours does,' she said smugly, 'a

            • by 1u3hr (530656)
              if the economy prospers during their term in office, their wealth earns them a profit.

              Thus giving politicians even more incentive to not give a fuck about what happens to the country after they leave office. You'd end up with the same short sighted policies that have large corporations hollowing themselves out to make the quarterly profits.

              A leader would have to be truly selfless to invest his money in say a large hydroelectric scheme that will not start to earn money for 15 years. And he has a massiv

          • In the UK they (at least the most important ones) put the money in a blind trust for the duration of their time in officce, which means that they no longer control it and do not know where it is invested.

            That does not solve the problem for people like Burlosconi, but it does for most people.

        • by Asic Eng (193332)
          I never understood how governments allow such conflict of interest...

          They don't. It's the voters who permit that. It was always known that the guy owns most of Italy's media - people still voted for him.

      • by JakiChan (141719)

        I think the idea isn't to block just YouTube from Italy...block Italy from accessing ANY Google content. I bet the people of Italy need Google more than Google needs them.

        • by mcvos (645701)

          I bet the people of Italy need Google more than Google needs them.

          I'm not so sure about that. Italy is a pretty big market, and Italy survived perfectly fine before Google. It wouldn't surprise me if Berlusconi would love to get the opportunity to create an official Italian search engine under his control.

    • I know, exactly!

      It is just a web site. Just like Slashdot. Is this sitegoing to be considered a TV station? Are they going to try and foolishly enforce those laws on us as well?

      I never understand how it is that anyone - be it in Law or in Politics or anywhere - has trouble making the distinction between what YouTube is and a TV Station.

    • by Jonner (189691)

      I'm sure that's exactly what Google will do if this law takes effect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 31, 2010 @06:18PM (#34724946)

    In America, Dominos is legally considered pizza.

  • Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheL0ser (1955440) on Friday December 31, 2010 @06:18PM (#34724948)

    the obligation not to broadcast content inappropriate for children in certain time slots

    Given the nature of the internet being worldwide, that would be.... never.

    But seriously, how do they expect to enforce this??

    • GeoLocation of IP to work out the appropriate timezone perhaps?

    • by gman003 (1693318)
      Simple. Youtube will stop working in Italy, probably posting something along the lines of "New government regulations make it financially unfeasible for us to continue operations in this country. For more information, please contact your representative."

      After enough congresspeople (or whatever they're called in Italy) get tired of hearing people complaining that Youtube is blocked, the law gets repealed.
    • Italy will enforce it with fines, and raids on server farms and offices within Italy, and lawsuits and criminal prosecutions. How Youtube abides by its new obligations is up to them. It's not Italy's problem.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        This is perhaps a dumb question, but does Youtube even have a presence in Italy beyond the ability of people to access the videos? I mean without any sort of presence in Italy, it's a tad hard to raid the offices or compelling Google to do anything about Youtube.
        • Google, Inc. has an office in Milan. [google.com]

          • Not that I've RTFA, but don't take it for granted that Google can be held responsible for YouTube's actions, especially given the complex web of companies used by an organisation that size. In any case, how hard would it really be for Google to pack up their Milan office?

            • by Asic Eng (193332)
              In any case, how hard would it really be for Google to pack up their Milan office?

              Hard enough - they sell advertising and the Italian market is a nice source of income. They could do without it, but they won't want to lose it if they can somehow avoid it. It's certainly worth their time to find a way to work with these regulations, and looking at their history - that's likely what they are going to do. Just like they found a way to limit streetview in Germany (even though there was no legal requirement, a

  • by rm999 (775449) on Friday December 31, 2010 @06:23PM (#34724972)

    This is what happens when the leader of a country also controls the largest media conglomerate of that country. Control the media, and you control the people. Control the people, and you *keep* control of the media.

    • Control the people, and you *keep* control of the media.

      But let's see what happens when youtube starts banning Italy.

    • Dylan Moran on Berlusconi (appropriately hosted on YouTube):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ajrw7uXfKRI [youtube.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ikkonoishi (674762)

      In Parliamentary Italy the President owns the media, but in America the media owns the President!

  • how do you correct keyboard cat?
  • Call it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arcsimm (1084173) on Friday December 31, 2010 @06:33PM (#34725078)
    See, this is where I think Google should call Berlusconi's bluff. All they need to do is redirect Italian IPs to a page that says, "Due to the legal implications of new regulations, Google can no longer provide service to Italian site visitors" followed by a few informational links. Then, they just sit back and wait for public outcry to force the Italian government to backpedal, and continue on as usual.
    • You overestimate the Italian people's need for Youtube, and underestimate Berlusconi's need to keep a media monopoly going.

      • You underestimate people's need for videos of kittens doing cute things.
      • You underestimate how much people rely on *all* of Google's services. He said "Google." Not "Youtube." Blogger, youtube, gmail, the search engine. It. All. Goes. Away. And you know what? I'd love to see it happen. It'd be one of the most fascinating events to happen in my lifetime.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      See, this is where I think Google should call Berlusconi's bluff. ....

      So what you are saying is that Google now has the power to bring down a democratically elected government? That is scary. (and yes I said that with tongue firmly planted in cheek with respect to Italy)

      • by Motard (1553251)

        No, I don't think he was suggesting that YouTube could take down the government. I think he was suggesting that blocking Italians from YouTube could cause complaints that could force a review of the policies.

        • by OzPeter (195038)

          No, I don't think he was suggesting that YouTube could take down the government. I think he was suggesting that blocking Italians from YouTube could cause complaints that could force a review of the policies.

          Which is tantamount to Google effectively triggering a no-confidence vote by the populace. Sure it would only be a minor hiccup in a very stable democracy, but in the case of Italy such an action could result in the government crashing down. Governments have been taken down for less, but typically it has been an internal source that has triggered the action. Given the persuasiveness of the Internet it could be possible for a company the size of Google to isolate a country. Yes I know that there are othe

          • by gman003 (1693318)
            Especially since Google is a lot more than search. Youtube, obviously, is a pretty big deal. GMail might be a big one. Chrome's a pretty big browser nowadays. Google Maps is pretty big. Android's rather unlikely to be blocked, but it would also be a pretty big deal. Ads would be a rather odd block, but if sites aren't getting any ad revenue from Italian visitors, they might block them as well, causing a chain-reaction of sites blocking Italy.
          • by Motard (1553251)

            Which is tantamount to Google effectively triggering a no-confidence vote by the populace.

            No it isn't. Whining != Insurrection. Response to whining != capitulation.

            Sure it would only be a minor hiccup in a very stable democracy, but in the case of Italy such an action could result in the government crashing down.

            Berlusconi is the longest serving head of state of any of the G8, fer chrissakes.

            Given the persuasiveness of the Internet it could be possible for a company the size of Google to isolate a country.

            The internet doesn't have any inherent persuasiveness. Not any more than radio waves.

      • Re:Call it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday December 31, 2010 @07:23PM (#34725500) Homepage Journal

        So what you are saying is that Google now has the power to bring down a democratically elected government?

        No, he's saying its people do. And this is how it's supposed to be.

      • Re:Call it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gman003 (1693318) on Friday December 31, 2010 @07:32PM (#34725580)
        Google went toe-to-toe with the People's Republic of China, arguably the second-most-powerful nation on the planet. And they won. Sure, China didn't exactly lose, but Google got exactly what it wanted.

        Maga-corporations have nearly as much power as governments. Fortunately, Google seems to be one of the "good guys", for a slightly looser definition of "good" than I prefer.
        • by berashith (222128)

          Are you sure. I thought that they both got what they wanted out of the deal , a ton of good press and free publicity.

    • Re:Call it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday December 31, 2010 @07:29PM (#34725564) Homepage

      No, that's what Silvio wants them to do. His goal is to eliminate major public venues in Italy that can be critical of him, he does most of that by owning the mass media, but he doesn't (and probably can't) buy Google. So if nobody in Italy can access Youtube, from Berlusconi's point of view the problem is solved.

    • Italy is part of Europe, which is already blocked from what seems like every other video.

  • All this will wind up doing is forcing YouTube to block Italian IP addresses. Problem solved. Then it's up to the outcries of the Italian people to get this retarding ruling reversed.
    • by Jaysyn (203771)

      Google should one-up Berlusconi & block Italian IPs throughout all it's servers.

  • by bmo (77928) on Friday December 31, 2010 @07:30PM (#34725568)

    "The main change, though, is that YouTube and similar sites will be legally responsible of all published content as long as they have any form (even if automated) of editorial control."

    Fine. Get rid of editorial control. All of it.

    But then the Italian version of the RIAA/MPAAA/ASCAP/Insert your acronym here, are barred from suing, because there isn't any responsibility for the content except by the posters themselves.

    Sounds fine by me.

    --
    BMO

    • "The main change, though, is that YouTube and similar sites will be legally responsible of all published content as long as they have any form (even if automated) of editorial control."

      Fine. Get rid of editorial control. All of it.

      But then the Italian version of the RIAA/MPAAA/ASCAP/Insert your acronym here, are barred from suing, because there isn't any responsibility for the content except by the posters themselves.

      Sounds fine by me.

      --
      BMO

      Won't work. Some *AA shill will upload kiddie porn, then someone else reports it.

      Now, does YouTube breach the "no editorial control" loophole or get taken offline for knowingly distributing child porn?

      The loophole doesn't exist because there is no such thing as "absolutely no editorial control" so long as absolute freedom of speech (however heinous it may be) is disallowed.

      • Actually, I don't think that would work. I think that if they knowingly take off *all* editorial, but have full log retention of uploads, and fully comply with law enforcement, then they're fine.

  • by D H NG (779318) on Friday December 31, 2010 @08:29PM (#34725936)
    When South Korea passed a law that requires large websites with user-generated contents to collect user's personal information, Google simply disabled the uploading and commenting features [pcworld.com] in YouTube for Korean users and encouraged them to set their locale to some other country. This continued for a year, shining a spotlight on South Korea's stupid law until the government gave up and exempted YouTube from the law.
  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Friday December 31, 2010 @09:06PM (#34726126) Homepage

    I know Italy isn't exactly a renegade terrorist dictatorship or anything, but such actions by a government with such a blatant conflict of interest is just wrong in principle. I think the U.S. government should put on its white hat and publicly take a stand against this. I mean, suppose Rupert Murdoch became prime minister of Australia and decided to fine any website that contradicted Fox News. Why should the U.S. cooperate with that?

    Looking at it from a completely different angle, if putting videos where Italians can see them makes YouTube an Italian television station, then every website in the world that streams audio is an Italian radio station, and every news site is an Italian newspaper. The whole concept is patently ridiculous.

    • I mean, suppose Rupert Murdoch became prime minister of Australia

      Impossible. Murdoch is now an American national, so wouldn't be eligible for election to our parliament. A more likely scenario would be the USA repealing laws so foreign born citizens could become President. Rupert is nearly 80 but Arnie would most certainly be the next Republican candidate.

  • No doubt with Berlusconi owning TV stations and setting policy, there are all sorts of gravy flowing from tax payers to TV stations for google to now tap into? Make lemonade! I mean, IF there were something like "tax break if you show more than X hours of educational material in a year", google need just apply RIAA mathematics to show that they show positive infinity hours of educational material in a year.

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