Romans declare piracy sites legal

After years of backing the sinking of pirate content websites, the Roman Court of Appeal has overturned a 600,000 euro ruling against four unlicensed sites that offered streaming movies to the public.

For those who came in late, the ruling is unexpected.  Italian courts have passed down many decisions against unlicensed sites which have seen hundreds blocked by ISPs.

But now the Court of Appeal has defined a pirate site in a way which makes it difficult for shedloads of them to be shut down on the basis of a stiff letter coming from Big Content..

In 2015 when the operator of four sites that linked to pirated movies was found guilty of copyright infringement by a local court and ordered to pay more almost 600,000 in fines and costs. As a result, filmakers.biz, filmaker.me, filmakerz.org, and cineteka.org all shutdown.

However, an appeal was filed and heard by the Rome Court of Appeal in February. The site’s lawyer Fulvio Sarzana said that the Court ruled that the links do not qualify as distributing files protected by copyright law.

This means that sites can list links and not be prosecuted.

“The Judge has recognized as lawful the portals’ activities, and this is despite the presence of advertising banners,” Sarzana says.

It is no longer enough to simply show that the ‘pirate’ site generates income. The prosecution must show that profit activity is connected to an individual.

If it fails, the sharing aspect could be considered as merely avoiding an expense rather than a for-profit activity designed to generate “significant gain”.

The judge ruled that file sharing is an  expensive saving move and a not a for-profit business and in such cases you cannot apply the penal provisions of copyright law and the resulting administrative sanctions.