Court hands victory to FAPAV against telco

Italy is ramping up antipiracy efforts thanks to a landmark ruling that, while falling short of demands that Italo telecos identify persistent pirates, will force Internet providers to be more pro-active.

The ruling by a Rome court caps a legal standoff between the Italian Audiovisual Antipiracy Federation (Fapav) and telco giant Telecom Italia, which Fapav had sued claiming it was responsible for 2.2 million illegal downloads between September 2008 and March 2009.

Judge Antonella Izzo rejected Fapav’s requests that Telecom Italia identify customers responsible for copyright violations, report them to authorities and block their Internet access. But Izzo did validate Fapav’s claim that there was evidence of widespread crime in which Telecom Italia acted as the main conduit.

It also stated that, while not criminally responsible, Telecom Italia must cooperate with Italian police and the media watchdog.

Online piracy is rampant in Italy, costing the local film industry more than $700 million a year, according to Fapav.

The country is on the Intl. Intellectual Property Alliance watchlist.

The ruling came as Italy heatedly debates drafting local legislation similar to “graduated response” laws in various stages of approval in Gaul and Blighty involving warnings and eventual Internet disconnection to repeat offenders.

Ironically, an opponent of those laws is Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni who recently incensed the local entertainment industry by trumpeting the fact that he downloads free music from peer-to-peer sites.

The Italo pirate pol was chastized by local manufacturer’s org Confindustria reminding him that piracy has caused the loss of an estimated 22,400 jobs in Italy.

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