Italy Says YouTube Is Like TV & Should Be Regulated Like TV

More and more people are cutting the cord and moving from television to the Internet. But does that mean sites like YouTube should be treated like television channels? Italy thinks so.

More and more people are cutting the cord and moving from television to the Internet, watching Google TV, Apple TV, checking out their favorite shows on Hulu and entertaining themselves on YouTube. But does that mean sites like YouTube should be treated like television channels? Italy thinks so.

According to Tech.Blorge Technology News, who sites a translated article from Italian technology news site la Repubblica, it looks like YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion and other online video sites in for a whole new set of rules, as Italian broadcasting regulators have formally placed video sharing sites in the same class as broadcast stations and will be regulating them as such. The decision has come as part of a plan by AGCOM, Italian communications regulator, who wants to place online TV and radio stations under the same regulations of offline broadcasters.

Broadcast station rules that may now apply to YouTube are as follows:

  • YouTube, like traditional broadcasters, will be required to issue a correction within a forty-eight hour period following the “broadcasting” (or upload in this case) of defamatory material.
  • There will be a crack down on privacy violations – Videos of individuals who have not given written consent cannot be viewed on television. The same will hold true for YouTube.
  • There is a possibility that certain material that is not suitable for children will not be able to be “broadcast” on YouTube at certain times of the day.

In addition to the above rules, the decision could make it more difficult for Google to argue against Italian copyright lawsuits. Google and YouTube have argued in the past that they cannot be held responsible for the sheer volume of material that makes it on to their site and that they do everything they can to catch copyright violations and take action with Content ID. If YouTube is regulated like television, however, the decisions in these types of lawsuits will be much less lenient.

I can understand AGCOM’s interest in regulating online television and radio stations in a similar fashion to offline broadcasters. However, should online video sites like YouTube really fit into the same category? YouTube is much more than an online television channel. It is a sharing service for people from around the world to share and watch videos on their own time, using their own formats and ideas.

Broadcast stations have prescheduled programming, they prescreen or produce their own programming and, let’s face it, are a completely different ball of wax. I have a feeling that if ACGOM goes through with this it will be the end of sites like YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion as we know them in Italy. I’m of the mind that these sites simply don’t have the resources to adhere to the same sets of rules and standards as broadcast radio and television stations. What do you think?