The Italian government has just issued a new law making YouTube and similar sites subject to stricter regulations. The new law will consider YouTube and other sites that host user-generated content as legal television stations. In fact, any site that exercises the slightest editorial control over its content will be deemed an “audiovisual service.” As a result, these sites will be required to comply with the same rules as traditional broadcast television stations. Not only will these sites be required to pay additional taxes, but they must also comply with regulations preventing them from broadcasting videos unsuitable for children at certain times of the day. Furthermore, websites such as YouTube will be subject to stricter liability and are considered responsible for user-generated content, even if they respond to take-down requests.
The new rules makes it virtually impossible to run video-service websites in the country and are expected to be challenged in Italian courts in the near future, as they also contradict EU laws protecting internet service providers.
The YouTube controversy in Italy is closely linked to the ongoing €500M lawsuit of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on copyrighted works belonging to his party being uploaded to YouTube by users.