Italian broadcaster Mediaset has claimed victory in a milestone legal battle with Facebook over violation of copyright and defamation, with a Rome court holding the social network responsible for hosting unauthorised links to Mediaset content.
The case dates back to 2012. According to Mediaset, anonymous users opened a Facebook page dedicated to a cartoon, Kilari, broadcast by Italia 1. Some links on the page took users to copyright-protected content that had been illegally uploaded to YouTube, with other links led to posts realting to presenter Valentina Ponzone that Mediaset alleged were defamatory.
According to Mediaset, Facebook ignored requests to remove the content and links, leading the broadcaster to resort to a lengthy legal battle.
Facebook’s defence was that the Italian court did not have jurisdiction in this case and that it was eligible for safe harbour protection under Italy’s law implementing Article 14 of the EU e-commerce directive, which provides certain liability exemptions for hosting links to third-party content.
The Italian ruled that it had liability under the Brussels Convention and that Article 14 did not apply because Facebook had failed to act with the required level of diligence to remove the links.
Mediaset says that the Rome court’s decision is the first in Italy to hold a social network responsible for a violation of copyright related to posts that linked to content that was hosted externally to its platform.
The broadcaster said that it was hopeful that the new copyright directive recently agreed by European institutions would win final approval to give a definitive framework for the defence of intellectual property rights.
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