Italy has surprised some and earned the praise of US officials by adopting anti-piracy measures that even the US has avoided. In its latest “Special 301” report the US, in removing Italy from its Watch List of naughty countries, also applauds the country. It jettisoned them from the list “in recognition of their intellectual property rights accomplishments.”
Italy is removed from the Watch List in the 2014 Special 301 Report in recognition of the Italian Communications Regulatory Authority (AGCOM) adoption, on December 12, 2013, of long awaited regulations to combat copyright piracy over the internet.
It is one thing for countries to match the US’s zeal with regards to issues such as SOPA. But America gets absolutely delirious when a nation goes further than the US in applying the law. You may recall that there was considerable push- back in the States against some of the elements of SOPA legislation. So you can imagine the glee when seeing what happened in Italy.
Italy, it appears, has become more aggressive in copyright enforcement. One of its administrative agencies apparently issued censorship bans on websites without any judicial proceedings. They have gone so far as to issuing “death sentences” which has forced ISPs to block access. In doing so they have gone further than the approach originally considered in SOPA and subsequently rejected by the American public. But the USTR has not reprimanded Italy for their approach. On the contrary the USTR has singled out their actions as being exemplary.
By commending the Italians, the USTR may be looking to a time in the future when they may turn around and declare that the US must get into step with its allies and adopt more stringent copyright piracy legislation. I mean, perish the thought that some nation or nations might be looked on as more hawkish in terms of piracy laws. This is, in fact, how the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) came into existence. For your information, Congress initially rejected the tenets of the DCMA. But after its elements were made part of international law by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the USTR pointed to the fact that the Us was not in synch with its international obligations and, therefore, DCMA came into being for America.
The USTR has long been suspected of being in the pocket of lobbyists for the entertainment industry. By its actions involving the Italians it merely serves to stoke the conspiratorial fires.