Why “Olivennes Bill” wouldn’t work in Italy

Olivennes Bill” (named after the French lobbyist who proposed it) on copyright protection has been blocked by the French Parliament a couple of days ago (but there is little doubt that French Government will try to have it approved ASAP.) If  (better, when) passed, this bill would have enforced a “parallel indictemnt system” handled by an “independent” authority called HADOPI acting as an actual Justice Court, that is given the power to decide, without a fair trial, whether a person deserves to be disconnetted by the Internet after being warned twice by copyright holder through the concerned Internet Access Provider.

Entertainment Industry lobbyists like this approach very much and are pushing hard to have Italy enforce it too. “The Problem” is – fortunately – that Olivennes Bill Italian version’s  would be affected by serious legal and Constitutional flaws, thus making it impossible to pass, for a number of reasons.

First, Italian Code of electronic communication (L.259/03) sect. 4 para I letters f) g) and h) make network neutrality mandatory. To impose over Access Providers’  shoulder filtering duties or any other technological activity limiting the way Italian Public Network (rete pubblica di comunicazioni) works, would be what the Code calls “discrimination among specific technologies” and “forcing the use of a particular technology against others”.

Second, the Access Providers would be forced to report the Public Authorities their users’ criminal behaviour by fault of cross-combination between legislative decree 70/2003 1 and sect. 171 bis et al. of Law 633/41. 2 Legislative Decree 70/2003, in fact, makes Access Provider non-automatically accountable for its users’ actions, provided that he doesn’t willingly become part of it. Furthermore, the Decree says that the Access Provider must report to the police forces any criminal misconducts as soon as he’s been given sound evidence of a criminal behaviour committed by an Internet user, thus forcing the prosecutor to start a criminal investigation. All this, is possible because Italian Copyright infringement provisions are “designed” to be mandatory investigated by the Public Prosecutor. 3Then, should Italy enforces an Olivennes-like legislation, there would be a “double trial” for the same (alleged) fact: the first – real – under a Court scrutiny, the second – “mock” – run by an “independent” authority, leading to a conflict of public powers.

Third, as a side question, nobody told Mr. Olivennes that his bill is oddly similar to ancient Western Europe Barbarian laws, where didn’t matter who the actual culprit was, because the victim had the right to retaliate against any other culprit’s family member. This is what Mr. Olivennes proposes: to seclude a whole family or company from the Internet, for the (alleged) wrongdoing of a single member.

Not bad, as an exercise on democracy.

  1. enforcing EU directive 31/00 on e-commerce and access/content providers online liability
  2. Italian Copyright Law
  3. Italian Penal Code contains two “kind” of crimes: the first one is composed by very serious misconducts such as homicide and money laundering – to name a few – that must be investigated no matter if the victim ask for it. Second one is composed of serious crimes too, whose investigation begininnig is in victim’s own hands. In other words, if the victim of a theft doesn’t ask the public prosecutor to start investigating the crime, nothing happens, even if a policeman or a magistrate knows that the fact actually happened.

Thepiratebay.org case. An Italian Court affirms a dangerous principle of law

N.B. Background information for this post are available here. 

The Bergamo Court has overruled the preemptive seizure order with a decision that, instead of solving the problems arising from the first decision, creates worst issues. The Bergamo Court, in fact, has overruled the seizure, but only on the legal basis that “seizure” cannot be interpreted as “traffic hijacking”.

But the court did not, as it should have done, evaluate first of all the lack of Italian jurisdiction. By not doing so, the Bergamo tribunal has created a dangerous case law that, by reciprocity, allows any foreign magistrate to investigate and take to court an Italian citizen, with the additional absurdity that even in the absence of any evidence that a crime has been committed, a legal prosecution can be based on hypothetical “statistic calculation”.

Furthermore, by asserting the validity of the public prosecutor investigation, the Court has de facto established the automatic liability not only of internet providers, but also of search engines, and the possibility of using, as an investigative tool, data and information with no solid ground.

And also, by saying that even if preemptive seizure has been wrongly enforced , it is in theory compatible with sect.14 D.LGV 70/20003 (EU E-commerce directive implementation, dealing with ISP liability), the Court of Bergamo on the one hand allows “owners of ideas” to push for an additional and barbaric copyright law amendment while, on the other hand, it reaffirms an obvious error of interpretation of law by affirming the role of ISPs as “sheriffs of the net”.

The piratebay case. A dangerous decision

The Court of Bergamo (IT) issued an order of preemptive seizure against piratebay.org, a swedish website accused of copyright contributory infringement, by running a torrent search engine.

The Court affirmed its jurisdiction even if there were no evidence of an actual involvement of Italian citizens, by not excluding, in theory, this possibility. If confirmed, this decision might disrupt the legal notion of jurisdiction, allowing every State to shut down  “disturbing” websites hosted in different countries.

Italian copyright law. A momentary lack of reason?

Yesterday the Italian Parliamen passed another amendment that adds Law 633/1941 (Copyright Law) Sect 70 bis thus allowing the free publication on the Internet of protected works (music and images) for cultural purposes. The law will enter into force as soon as it will be published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale (the official law list). Here is the exact text (translation is unofficial):

«1-bis. Low resolution or downgraded images and/or music publication through the Internet is allowed, for teaching and/or scientific purposes and if this use doesn’t imply an economic gain. The Minister of cultural assets – with the advice of the Minister of the university and research, and with the opinion of the concerned Parliament committees – shall set the limit to the teaching and scientific uses».

It is obvious to remark that an MP3 or a jpeg file meet – technically speaking – the requirement of the law (both are based on the concept of lowering the quality of the original file). Thus – from now on – in Italy is legal to publish on line or share through Peer-to-Peer copyrighted images and music, just meeting the requirement of “teaching and/or scientifc purposes”.

Is this an astonishing cultural achievement of Italian legislators (showing they finally have understood the main use of the Internet) that decided to fight back against entertainment lobbies’ superpowers, or an incredible essay on incompetence?

I really would like to sponsor the first answer, but I fear that the Italian Parliament simply didn’t understand what was going on…

A comment on Skype’s outage-related official statement

So, at the end of the day, Skype explained the reason for the outage that broke its P2P network. To make a long story short, the point is that Skype relies upon a closed source approach (that slows the bug finding process) and on Microsoft technologies that, in that specific case, create the problem. This reinforces my early assumption, that crash cause was Skype design instead of a unpredictable problem. It simply unacceptable that an outage of that dimension has been provoked by the inability of an operating system to patches itself without always rebooting. And who did that choice should account for it.

Right, Skype is very clear in repeating that Microsoft has nothing to do with the Big Crash. Nevertheless, it raises some suspect, to me, reading statement such as: “The Microsoft Update patches were merely a catalyst — a trigger — for a series of events that led to the disruption of Skype, not the root cause of it.” or “Microsoft has been very helpful and supportive throughout.” or, again,  “In short – there was nothing different about this set of Microsoft patches.”, “The Microsoft team was fantastic to work with”. But this PR stuff doesn’t change the basic stuff: Skype is the next component of a “vulnerable society”, where problems, risks and damages are created mainly by the ICT companies – instead of the “dangerous criminals” that fall under than unspecified label of  “hackers”.