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Google Italy Execs Convicted Over YouTube Bullying Video 391

FTWinston writes "Three Italian Google executives have been convicted of privacy violations in Italy over the contents of a YouTube video showing a boy with Downs syndrome being bullied — despite the fact that the video was removed as soon as it was brought to their attention, and that Google assisted the authorities in locating those who posted it. Prosecutors argued that Google should have sought the consent of all parties involved with the video before allowing it to go online. Quite how they were meant to achieve this is another matter." Google has responded by saying this is a Serious threat to the web.
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Google Italy Execs Convicted Over YouTube Bullying Video

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  • Great big targets (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ItsColdOverHere ( 928704 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @09:56AM (#31258600)

    So Italy has basically painted a great big target on every single operator of social media.
    Apparently if an Italian moderator or admin ticks me off I can simply upload some offending bit of data and call the cops...

  • Bread and circuses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pv2b ( 231846 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:01AM (#31258656)

    This is ridiculous.

    If Youtube is illegal in Italy, maybe Google should just start blocking people from Italy from accessing the site. Maybe then people will care, when the people's bread and circuses are threatened.

  • Re:Mistake (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:14AM (#31258806)

    Look, I think the decision is as stupid as everybody else does. But unless you are an expert on Italian law, don't go yammering about how an Italian judge doesn't know how to apply the law of a country you probably don't even live in.

    Enforcing stupid laws does not make him a bad judge, nor does it make his decision a mistake. If you have evidence to the contrary other than "well I don't like this very much and therefore it must be wrong!" then by all means, point it out and let's have a look.

  • by wurble ( 1430179 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:15AM (#31258810)
    Did you see the Amanda Knox trial? This is the same legal system that convicted 2 obviously innocent people of murder with no evidence and sentenced them to prison for over 20 years even though they had already CONVICTED SOMEONE ELSE FOR THE SAME CRIME!

    My wife and I had planned on visiting Italy in the next few years. After watching the trial, we changed our minds. Italy's legal system has ... "flaws."
  • In Italy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:16AM (#31258840)
    In Italy defamation is a beloved way to make people shut up. In two occasions I was threatened to be sued over defamation.

    For the record, both times a car driver behaved like an arse and I told them they were 1) "un coglione" which is best translated as knobhead/dickhead/idiot and 2) "stronza" (bitch.) Both times the defamation threat came instantaneously. Knowing it would cost me US$ 100 tops, I actually enjoyed the frigging beggars -their motives were mostly financial IMHO- winding themselves up.

    I suppose I actually deserved a bit of verbal thrashing and intimidation in those cases. But imagine much worthier goals being seriously hampered by this. You very quickly defame someone in Italy on the base that they actually deserve it.

    We Italians sort of cherish elaborated, concocted, ridiculous laws. It makes us feel "save" in a way that if push comes to shove we will find some way to delay or attack the adversary.

    Yes, I'm Italian and quite ambivalent about it. Don't think, however, that I would trade in my nationality that lightly. It's certainly not the best nationality to have but I haven't came across a better one so far. I trust most feel the same about their own nationality.
  • Don't look at google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:25AM (#31258930) Homepage Journal
    If is a valid precedent, then in any moment slashdot admins could be convicted in Italy for an AC comment. Or any of us, if we didnt promoted down that comment when had moderating points.
  • Re:What?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by anegg ( 1390659 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:29AM (#31258990)

    Perhaps that is exactly what is required - is is at least reasonable to debate the point rather than dismiss it outright.

    Google offers a platform for publishing material. It is far different than a "common carrier" like the telephone company offering a communications system through which material is transmitted and received between individuals, or even an ISP (where multiple pairings are involved). It is, in fact, much more like a newspaper, with the difference that as it is currently run, no editor reviews the material appearing on the front page.

    I can imagine a scenario under which material pertaining to me could be obtained illegally and published. If a newspaper were to publish it, I would certainly want to hold the editor of the newspaper responsible. In fact, the courts do find the editors of publications such as the National Inquirer (in the US, other publications elsewhere) responsible for publishing illegally obtained material regarding public figures such as movie stars.

    Why is it so far-fetched to imagine holding the operators of an Internet-based publishing platform to a similar standard? Be careful in your responses, as I am not necessarily advocating holding them responsible; I am interested in understanding the reasoning under which it is considered ridiculous to do so.

    Reasonable responses, anyone?

  • Re:Great big targets (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RMH101 ( 636144 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:42AM (#31259130)
    that's it: Berlusconi doesn't like that people can post videos of him getting hit with model cathedrals, so he's classing anyone who uploads video to the internet as a broadcaster subject to government regulation.
  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:45AM (#31259156)

    This is political.

    I would wager that this is Berlusconi's way of trying to control the web, you have to keep in mind this is a man who has a stranglehold on Italian media, and has used that to get into, and stay in power over the years. The web has been a headache for him, because it's an avenue from which people are getting news and which he does not control.

    The judges may well be incompetent, or corrupt, but really they're just pawns in a bigger battle.

    It's really hard to see how it can be anything else, I do not believe judges would reach the conclusion they did based on the fact that Google had done everything possible in their power, and based on the fact the people at Google in question who were targetted, are in some cases completely irrelevant and unattached to anything to do with the case.

    It's likely that these people were chosen because they were high enough to make a point, but not the top dogs who really would have been able to unleash hell and fight back.

    This is certainly one way in which Berlusconi could try and control the web such that it adheres to his viewpoint as much of the Italian media that he controls does, by ensuring that content providers are criminally responsible for anything put up that the government disagrees with. It's not a big deal for the Google execs, because they will likely never travel to Italy and so the case wont effect them- but picture this, you run a site in Italy critical of the Italian PM, you post photos of him carrying out an illegal deal, and, well, now you know where it will land you at least- jail. Anyone not from Italy doing the same, faces jail if they ever decide to travel to Italy after being convicted of the same.

    It's almost as if Berlusconi has been taking lessons from the likes of Chavez and Ahmadinejad recently.

  • by wintercolby ( 1117427 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ybloc.retniw'> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:47AM (#31259174)
    I'm sorry, I did figure this out. No one was convicted of criminal defamation, which would suggest that they were charged with it. 3 out of 4 were convicted of failure to comply with privacy code. This could be viewed several ways, the judge was rational and wanted someone with deep pockets to get the privacy code repealed/reviewed/replaced (understand enough about the US judicial system, but no clue how this might work in Italy.)

    The fact that all 4 were found not guilty of a more severe sounding offense seems to be good news. The fact that one person was found not guilty of anything also seems to suggest that there is little insanity taking place here.
  • Keep in mind... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:48AM (#31259190)

    ... That Berlusconi, beside being the president of that country, is too the manager of almost every TV stations in Italy (Mediaset).
    I live in Switzerland, and I cannot find it again, but I read some weeks ago that a law was to be enforced to regulate the viewing of on demand video.

    The article was relating the big amount of money that where being put into a on-demand video platform for mediaset at the same time, and how youtube was the first competitor to put aside. [] []

    Given the fact that Berlusconi says all the time that "The bad journalists are attacking me without reasons all the time" [], and how he consider that the fist in face he received some times ago was "organized and planed via facebook" [] I am not that surprised of that move.
    After all, he passed a law giving him immunity in every lawsuit for corruption that where opened against him when he came back to the government. []

  • Re:What?!? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @10:51AM (#31259226)
    I would contend that your analogy is flawed. Google may not qualify as common carrier but neither is it a newspaper publisher. The closest analogy I can think of are the /. forums we're on right now. If I were to post illegal material here, is there a reasonable expectation that the /. editors would prevent it from posting? Or is it more reasonable that after receiving a complaint they would remove the infringing/illegal material?

    The only difference between YouTube and Slashdot is the medium of information exchange. Slashdot is primarily text based while YouTube uses a mix of text and video to allow users to communicate.
  • Re:Mistake (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Saint Fnordius ( 456567 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @11:11AM (#31259438) Homepage Journal

    This may be what happened here, the lower court judges expecting their decision to be overturned but still wanting to make a statement. They don't care that it clogs up the system and eats up lawyer time on both sides, it's all about showing everyone that they're boss. To them, Google is rich and can afford it, so they don't care.

    Of course, I don't wholly discount the idea of Berlusconi agents applying pressure and greasing palms to chill the atmosphere either. I merely think it's the less likely excuse, yet still very plausible.

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @11:27AM (#31259692)

    I'm pretty sure I know why this happened:Youtube is a serious threat to Berlusconi's stranglehold over all Italian TV stations.Considering how easy it is to set up a Youtube channel, traditional Italian TV is about to be pushed into irrelevance. Call Berlusconi whatever you want, but he isn't stupid. So he sends some favorable prosecutor after Youtube and will try to shut them down.

    I don't know if this will lead to anything more than Youtube being pulled from Italy, because the Italian system isn't common law - judges don't create precedents. So I don't think this ruling means anything more than more "Youtube, stop interfering with our monopoly!" But other than that, yes it does reek of corruption and incompetence.

  • by ChienAndalu ( 1293930 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @11:28AM (#31259700)

    And if you still decide to travel there, be sure that your wife wears something else than jeans [].

  • by klenwell ( 960296 ) <> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @12:25PM (#31260484) Homepage Journal

    This was my conclusion, too, as soon as I read the headline after hearing this story on NPR last week: []

    From that report:

    One patron, Christian Lingreen, says his native Denmark has 100 percent Wi-Fi coverage — Italy maybe just 1 percent. "I love Italy," he says, "but I have to say [information technology], that is not their cup of tea."

    Nearby sits Riikka Vanio of Finland, who is a mother of two children. "In the school, it's impossible to pass information to other parents through Internet, because none of them have Internet connection at home or not even e-mail address," she says. "So it's not part of their culture yet."

    Nevertheless, Italy's right-wing government is going far beyond its European partners with the decree that would require Web sites with video content to request authorization and would mandate the vetting of copyrighted videos before they're uploaded.

  • by Weezul ( 52464 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @12:51PM (#31260888)

    You must not pay ANY attention to Italian politics. Italy is the joke of Europe. lol

    Spain, Portugal, Croatia, etc. are all more efficient and less corrupt. Turkey very likely matches Italy if your counting raw incidences, but Turkish corruption has a more administrative character, so people lose less money to corruption.

    I know numerous real Italian-born highly educated young Italians living in Europe, except for a couple girls who choose to live near their parents, all prefer living abroad in France, Germany, or even miserable Britian over living in Italy.

    It's a astonishingly bad time for young Italians living in Italy. Berlusconi's government's employment regulations have ensured most will never have the life their parents lived. I'm seriously not kidding, all the smart ones expatriate.

    Berlusconi is apparently trying to gain some control over the web with this move, well he controls most non-web based news already.

  • Re:What?!? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @01:32PM (#31261486) Journal

    All internet content distributors have a legal duty to make sure they have the rights to the content they distribute, before doing so.

    No. Internet content originators do. So if you posted a video to Google that turns out to be a copyright violation, you (as the person who posted the video) are open to a lawsuit.

    Google will remove the video upon the copyright holder's request, but they didn't create the video. Their liability ends with good-faith efforts to comply with takedown notices, and compliance with court orders to help you track down the offender when you file suit.

    And yes, I do expect that someone at Google should watch every video, and file the accompanying paperwork; talent release forms, rights releases for music, photographic releases from the dp etc... Thats how it works with every other form of mass media.

    The content originator or their employer is usually held liable. Not their distribution or display channels.

    Let's say I'm a music company produce a song and publish it, then sell that song over various channels. Those channels each make a profit by playing it. Then it turns out that four notes were similar enough to a Jimi Hendrix song and Jimi's great granddaughter sues me for $1 billion.

    How much liability does the radio station who played my song or local CD shop who resold my CD share? Can Jimi's estate also sue them? I'm the only one who is accused of violating copyright, but others have profited from my violation.

    How far does it go? Does the liability stop with the one who broke copyright, or does it extend to everyone who made a profit or was involved? Can they sue the recording studio I rented to make the CD? The manufacturer of the recording equipment? Albert Einstein's estate, since he invented recording media in the first place?

    No. It stops with the person who originated the violating content and claimed rights to something they don't have rights to.

    I should be able to go to sleep at night knowing that my content is safe wherever it is being distributed, because that distributor has taken the necessary precautions to clear all rights and compensate performers, artists, and creators appropriately;

    No. If you want your copyrights enforced, you are responsible for identifying infringements and pursuing them. That's your legal right, and your legal responsibility. Copyright violations are a civil matter, between you and the person who is violating your copyright. No one else is qualified to identify them anyway.

  • Re:What?!? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xeno man ( 1614779 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:19PM (#31263048)
    Because in your poor analogy you are placing thing as you see them to fit your position in the argument. Basically we need to scrap this analogy and start a new.

    Lets say you own a building downtown which as a large blank wall that faces the main street. Now lets say you had a mural painted on it like a city heritage or your company logo or anything to make it nicer. What it is is not important but what is important is that you have something there that you intend for people to look at. Now one night I come along and spray paint a giant penis on your wall. The next day people see it and eventually someone lets you know that it is there and you have it removed.

    Now what your arguing is that you need to be charged for owning a wall that displayed a offensive image and that you need to hire a guard to patrol your wall to prevent anyone from doing that again. That seems like an excessive amount of responsibility on one person to control the actions of another but that is what your arguing here.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"