For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Italy to introduce new (neighbouring) right over news content?

These look like truly exciting or seriously worrisome times for copyright in Italy. On one thing there is however agreement: these are times of change. 

Following adoption of AGCOM (Italian Communication Authority)'s Regulation on Online Copyright Enforcement (non-official English translation available here; analysis of its content available here and here) a few days ago, it seems that now the time is apt for Italy to look at what Germany did (here, but see here) and France (here) and Belgium (here) considered doing in relation to news aggregation services. 

A few months ago FIEG (the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers) stressed the importance of providing effective online content protection (here). In particular, FIEG held the view that, while news publishers have been adopting innovative models to remain competitive, there have been no actual political initiatives in Italy to protect content producers and safeguard all the economic, political and technical resources that are considered indispensable to produce quality content. 

As those IPKat readers who also follow The 1709 Blog may recall, Italian Government did not remain insensitive to FIEG plea. Indeed, in an interview with Corriere della Sera in June last, Giovanni Legnini (under-secretary to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers) started a debate as to what measures Italy might adopt in favour of press publishers.

Well, that discussion may now translate to actual measures. 

Alas! This is not enough for press
publishers, thinks the Italian Government
 
A few days ago Italian Government adopted its plan known as Destinazione Italia, which is composed of a Law Decree and a bill which is linked to the forthcoming budget law.

Among other things, as also reported by fellow blogger Giulio Coraggio, the Destinazione Italia bill contains measures in favour of Italian press publishers, including the introduction of what may look like a new neighbouring right over news content. 

The main objective, as clarified by Italian Government, is to balance freedom of information over digital platforms with the safeguard of core principles of copyright protection. 

Major financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reproduces the text of the relevant provision which, as this Kat translated, reads as follows:

"Where rights are expressly reserved, reproduction, communication to the public and, in any case, use, including partial (use), in any way or medium, including indexing or aggregation in any way - whether (analogue or) digital - of press content, including medium and editorial context, which is published in print, online, TV- or radio-broadcast or made available to the public by other means, is allowed only following agreement between the relevant rights holder(s), or relevant representatives of rightsholders authorised to do so, and the user(s), or relevant representatives of users authorised to do so. Lacking agreement over terms of use, including economic use, such terms are defined by AGCOM upon request of interested parties."

As correctly observed by Il Sole 24 Ore, the language employed in this provision is fairly broad (and rather vague) and might imply the need for seeking and obtaining permission for any aggregation activity, even beyond "pure" news aggregation services. 

It will be interesting to see how this provision, if actually transposed into law, will enter and change the Italian Copyright Act (Law 633/1941) and what its relationship with libere utilizzazioni (copyright exceptions) will be. 

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