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How the new Italian video game and Internet content age rating system works

Video game publishers, eSports events organizers and Internet operators need to comply with the Italian age rating system

The first Italian video game and Internet content age rating system is now in place. There is a short term for video game publishers, eSports events organizers and Internet operators to comply.

The Italian communications and media authority, AgCom, published the regulations governing the Italian video game and Internet content age rating system. Below is an outline of its main contents now been supplemented by AgCom guidelines that support the interpretation of the applicable provisions.

What is the territorial scope of the Italian video game and Internet content age rating system?

The new classification system applies to audiovisual works primarily aimed at exploitation through the Internet and video games that can be used by any communication means. This category is likely to include, for instance, eSports events played or broadcasted online.

Neither the regulations nor the guidelines clarify their territorial scope and to which entities, they apply. However, they refer to their applicability in case of video games “dedicated to the Italian market“.  In case of a video game and Internet content published or advertised in Italian, they are likely to be considered applicable, even if the provider is abroad.

Why are the entities obliged to comply?

The Italian age rating system applies to providers making available to the public Internet contents and video games. The category includes both those that have the editorial responsibility on such contents and hosting providers as per the eCommerce Directive.

It is possible to contractually agree between the entities involved a different allocation of the burden to perform the activities necessary for the rating of Internet contents and video games. But it is crucial to keep the documentation evidencing the activities functional to the implementation of such compliance measures. The documentation shall not be filed but provided upon request to AgCom.

What are the obligations provided by the age rating system?

The AgCom regulations on the Italian video game and Internet content age rating system are based on the self-certification rule. Operators need to be able to provide evidence of the proper performance of the required activities.

The regulations prescribe for both Internet contents and video games theme descriptors of the types of contents that might affect minors. This circumstance is an element relevant for the assignment of the correct age classes identified through different signs whose display rules change depending on the classification.

Additionally, for Internet media contents, providers need to implement a disclaimer to be shown before the broadcasting of the content as well as technical measures to enable the broadcasting of contents in line with the allocated rating, and which change for pay-per-view audiovisual media contents.

What happens if video games already adopt the PEGI rating?

The PEGI rating system is considered equivalent to the new Italian AgCom rating system for video games. Therefore, if video games adopt (or will adopt) the PEGI rating system, there is no need to put in place the additional Italian AgCom rating.

In any case, there are similarities between the PEGI rating and the Italian content rating system, even if the number of age classes is different. And for obligations applicable to advertising and promotional activities, reference is made in the regulations to the relevant sections of the PEGI’s most recent guidelines.

Timing and sanctions

Providers shall adopt the measures prescribed by the Italian age content rating system by the 30th of October 2019. And the breach of such obligation is fined with penalties ranging between € 25,000 and € 350,000.

My recommended actions to comply with the Italian video game and Internet content age rating system

Giulio CoraggioMy recommendations are:

  • If you are an Internet operator, there are urgent actions to be taken that require the implementation of also technical measures; while
  • If you are a video game publisher, broadcaster or an eSports event organizer and if already comply with the PEGI age rating system, given the potential sanctions, it is still recommended to review the self-certification documents to verify their adequacy, also arranging an Italian version to be ready for filings.

On the topic, you may find interesting the articles Internet liability rules overturned again and How to find a solution to legal issues of eSports tournaments in Italy.

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Giulio Coraggio

I am the location head of the Italian Intellectual Property & Technology department and the global co-head of the IoT and Gaming and Gambling groups at the world-leading law firm DLA Piper. IoT and artificial intelligence influencer and FinTech and blockchain expert, finding solutions to what's next for our client's success.

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