According to new rules laid down by the Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM), YouTube and other similar video sharing sites will now be treated as broadcasters and will be subjected to the same regulations as TV broadcast companies.
This rule will automatically make the companies responsible for all content on their site and they will thus have to comply with certain rules and regulations including:
- They will have to pay a tax of €500
- Content considered inappropriate for children will have to be restricted to certain times of the day
- Corrections will have to be made within 48 hours, when requested by any person or group who feels they have been slandered or victimised on a video
- The company will be held responsible for all content on the site.
YouTube Would Need To Change Functionality
As far as the restriction of content according to time is considered, YouTube’s current configuration would make this impossible to control. Since YouTube supplies video on demand, unlike conventional TV broadcasters that can schedule their programmes as required, YouTube cannot normally control when users request a video.
In order to comply with the new regulation, YouTube would have to build new functionality that would make requested content unavailable before the watershed hour if it is considered to be inappropriate for minors.
Also, as far as editorial content and control are concerned, videos are uploaded on YouTube independently by individuals, and YouTube does not have any control over this content. An estimated 24 hours of video footage are uploaded on the site every minute, making it practically impossible for YouTube to censor or control all of the content even if they wanted to.
Rumour has it that these rules have been imposed for the convenience of the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who owns several large TV networks in Italy, and currently has a €500 million law suit going on against YouTube with respect to copyrighted content.
YouTube’s parent company, Google, has a couple of options available to them under the circumstances. They can block all IP addresses from Italy and redirect users to use some other proxy address. Alternatively, they could do what they did a while ago in China, and withdraw their operations completely from Italy.
If the latter were to happen, the Italian public would raise a hue and cry and demand that these rules be withdrawn.