A Rome court has found social media giant Facebook guilty of copyright violation in a case brought by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset media group, the Italian company said in a statement last Wednesday.
"For the first time in Italy, Facebook has been found guilty of copyright violation and defamation, which it committed by hosting unauthorized links on its platform," Mediaset said, calling its victory "a turning point in copyright protection law".
Mediaset explained that the case dates back to 2012, when "anonymous users" opened a Facebook page dedicated to Kilari, a cartoon that was broadcast on one of the Mediaset TV channels.
The page had links that led to "copyright-protected contents that had been illegally uploaded onto YouTube", as well as "heavy-handed insults and denigrating comments aimed at the performer of the animated series' theme song", Mediaset wrote. "The (court's) decision is the first to recognize in Italy the responsibility of a social network for violations that occur...through links to pages outside its own platform," according to Mediaset.
The Italian company added that, while the lawsuit claimed "modest" monetary damages, it was "crucial insofar as the principles it intended to uphold and...the precedent it sets". "Mediaset hopes the European Directive on digital copyright...will be approved, in order to provide a definitive framework for the defense of contents that are the fruit of the intelligence and the creativity of the authors," the statement said.
In comments reported by Italian news agency ANSA, a Facebook spokesperson said the company is assessing the Rome court ruling and that it "takes the defense of copyright very seriously".
Based in California and founded in 2004, Facebook had 2.3 billion users worldwide as of the fourth quarter of 2018, according to its corporate website.