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Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Veni, vidi, fimi

The IPKat is grateful to his learned colleague Ben Challis (Music Law Updates) for drawing his attention to a press release headed "ITALIAN RAIDS LEAD TO FINING OF ILLEGAL MUSIC UPLOADERS". The release, from Italian organisation FIMI (the umbrella organisation of the Italian music recording industry), reads:

"Four illegal music file-swappers face fines of €12 million

Italian police questioned four people for illegally uploading copyright infringing music onto the internet following a raid near Milan. In addition to pressing criminal charges, the police have issued the uploaders with an administrative fine of €12 million.

Officers from the Guardia di Finanza di Milano took part in Operation Genux which saw the arrest of four individuals aged between 30 and 45 in the town of Melgnano. They had been sharing more than 120,000 files containing copyright infringing music using the DCC++ peer-to-peer network.

The police seized six computers, seven external hard discs and more than 2,300 CD-Roms during the raids. The products seized included catalogue from artists such as Madonna, Vasco Rossi, U2 and Elisa. The police also seized copies of software programmes such as Vista and Office, as well as video games.

Left: the IPKat, in enforcement mode

Officers were acting on search warrants issued by Alessandra Simion, the Public Prosecutor of Lodi and were assisted by the Italian anti-piracy federation FPM. The €12 million administrative fine was levied under Article 174 of the Italian Copyright Act".

The press release then continues with a message from FIMI chairman Enzo Mazza, who says:
"People are wrong to think they are anonymous when they post material onto peer-to-peer networks. In fact they can be located and legal action brought against them. The administrative fines levied in this case show that abusing copyright on a grand scale can be an extremely costly business.”
This is an amazing sum of money -- we're talking of euros here, not lire -- and its punitive effect will send out a clear message to all large-scale Italian file-sharers. But the IPKat's a little puzzled. WIPO's text of Article 174 of the Italian Copyright Act reads:
"In penal proceedings under this Section injured party, as a civil complainant, may at any time request the penal judge to apply the measures and sanctions specified in Articles 159 and 160" [Kat's note: Articles 159 and 160 deal with the removal or destruction of infringing copies].
Does this provision really empower the police to impose such a fine? And can a fine of this magnitude really be imposed as part of an administrative procedure, without so much as a trial? He hopes that one or two of his Italian cousins will put him right.

More Genuxes here, here, here and here

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