Proposed web video restrictions outrage Italy

New rules to be introduced by government decree will require Italians who upload videos onto the Internet to obtain authorisation from the Communications Ministry similar to that required by television broadcasters, drastically reducing freedom to communicate over the Web.

The decree is ostensibly an enactment of a European Union (EU) directive on product placement and is due to go into effect at the end of January after being subjected to a non-binding appraisal by parliament.

Opposition lawmakers denounce dthe new rules — which require government authorization for the uploading of videos, give individuals who claim to have been defamed a right of reply and prevent the replay of copyright material — as a threat to freedom of expression.

“The decree subjects the transmission of images on the Web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorisation, with an incredible limitation on the way the Internet currently functions,” opposition politician Paolo Gentiloni said.

Article 4 of the decree specifies that the dissemination over the Internet “of moving pictures, whether or not accompanied by sound,” requires ministerial authorisation. Critics say it will therefore apply to the Web sites of newspapers, to IPTV and to mobile TV, obliging them to take on the same status as television broadcasters.

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