Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Wednesday March 29, 2017

‘Pirate’ Movie Streaming Sites Declared Legal By Italian Court

In 2015 an Italian court ruled against the owners of filmakers.biz, filmaker.me, filmakerz.org, and cineteka.org citing them for running a pirate movie operation and generating revenue through the sale of advertising. In February 2017, the $600,000 judgement against the owners was reversed through appeal as it was determined that advertising on a website, that provides only links to pirate material, does not necessarily make it a for profit business. The prosecution must also show that profit activity is connected to an individual. The advertising on the website didn't provide financial gain for the owners, thus it was ruled to be simply file sharing. File sharing the court ruled is a saving of expense and not a for profit business. Thus the penalties of Copyright Law and associated sanctions aren't applicable in this case.

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The repercussions of the ruling will undoubtedly be felt across Europe as Italy is a Member state of the European Union. With the NFL, NBA, and other American sporting corporations seeking to generate a fan base in the EU, I'd think that it may even affect our laws. What is the incentive for paying to watch a game when you can stream it from Italy? If the stream is simple file sharing in Italy, then how does that affect the legality of watching it in America? This was truly an interesting ruling coming out of Italy! What do you think?

"The Judge has recognized as lawful the portals’ activities, and this despite the presence of advertising banners," Sarzana says. According to the lawyer, it is not enough to simply show that the ‘pirate’ site generates income. The prosecution must also show that profit activity is connected to an individual. If it does not, the sharing aspect could be considered as merely avoiding an expense rather than a for-profit activity designed to generate "significant gain". In the event, that’s exactly what happened.

"In fact, the Judge ruled that file sharing, i.e the sharing of files protected by copyright, is a saving of expense and not a for-profit business. Therefore, in these cases you cannot apply the penal provisions of copyright law and the resulting administrative sanctions," Sarzana notes.

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