The Italian Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Federation seeks damages from telecom operator over illegal downloading.

The Italian Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Federation (FAPAV) has launched a landmark piracy case against internet provider Telecom Italia.

The case aims to address issues including the privacy of internet users amid growing digital piracy and will also examine the question of who is responsible for policing the Web.

FAPAV, supported by the Italian Authors and Editors Association (SIAE), is suing Telecom Italia for damages resulting from failing to stop its customers from illegally downloading copyrighted material.

Among FAPAV’s requests is that Telecom Italia turn over the names of companies that operate pirate sites so steps can be taken to block them from the internet.

Telecom Italia believes that it has no responsibility for online activities of customers and it claiming “neutrality and independence” as stipulated in Italy’s 2003 telecommunications law.  It has the backing of the Privacy Authority.

Filippo Rovilioni, president of FAPAV and chief executive of 01 Distribution, said, “This is not a case of peer-to-peer (an exchange between individuals) but of sites set up on a commercial basis that profit from activity which is illegal in Europe and the United States…. In the face of an activity that constitutes a crime, rules governing personal data must take second place.”

Italy has long been a piracy hot spot and the case marks a serious effort to curtail damages, which were estimated at $727m (€530m) to the Italian cinema industry alone in 2009 according to a FAPAV report.