Major Italian newspaper infringes artists' copyright on account that it would have taken too long to clear the rights

Clearing the rights?
A waste of time, according to Corriere
Via Giuseppe Mazziotti (Trinity College, Dublin) and fellow IPKat contributor Alberto comes an appalling interesting story of possible copyright infringement concerning major Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

In the aftermath of last week's attack to Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, this Italian newspaper decided to release a book entitled Je suis Charlie. Matite in difesa della libertà di stampa. This instant book (available for purchase since yesterday) is a collection of cartoons by professional and amateur artists produced "in the name of freedom".

Apparently Corriere intends freedom as encompassing not just freedom of the press, but also freedom from copyright.

In fact, as one of the authors concerned, Giacomo Bevilacqua, wrote on the Corriere did not obtain a licence to reproduce such artistic works [on a similar topic, see here]

The reason? It is easily explained, by the Corriere itself, in a post-scriptum:

"Post Scriptum (following the criticisms): The revenues of this operation, it is worth repeating it, will be devolved to the victims of the murder and the Charlie Hebdo newspaper. Waiting for the formal consent from all the authors, in our opinion, would have significantly delayed this operation. Anyway on the fourth page of the book it is clearly stated that «the editor is available [to do what? Probably to be sued, suggests Merpel] towards the rightholders that he has not been able to find [or should one rather say: "the rightholders from whom he has not waited to hear"?]»

Interestingly enough, the Corriere article is followed by a disclaimer ["© RIPRODUZIONE RISERVATA"] that the article itself cannot be reproduced by third parties without permission from ... Corriere.

Anyhow, a couple of hours ago the Editor of Corriere della Sera, Ferruccio de Bortoli, tweeted that "For the book #CharlieHebdo the revenues are intended for #CharlieHebdo, @corriereit does not make make money out of it, the rights of authors are acknowledged (p4)"

Will this suffice to avoid liability for copyright infringement?

Probably not. This Kat personally finds it a bit patronising - if not totally unacceptable - that an author should feel discouraged from enforcing his/her rights, on account that the infringing act at hand has been committed for laudable reasons. Shouldn't one feel free to decide how to exploit his/her work, including whether to raise money for reasons other than personal financial gain? 

More on this story on The 1709 Blog soon.
Major Italian newspaper infringes artists' copyright on account that it would have taken too long to clear the rights Major Italian newspaper infringes artists' copyright on account that it would have taken too long to clear the rights Reviewed by Eleonora Rosati on Thursday, January 15, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. I wonder whether Corriere della Sera would have had the nerve to do this in the era before the internet, when the press paid more respect to copyright

  2. The "Corriere" was legally wrong, but strategically right.
    Infringing copyright was probably the only way to publish the booklet a few days after the mass-murder. They simply accepted the fact that they will be sued and then settle.

  3. This occurrence demonstrates the absolute ignorance of Italians about intellectual property rights (and industrial as well). No wonder their institutions are in a lamentable state and theur representaives absolute zeros.

  4. Anonymous at 8:14: before you cast aspersions relating to the "absolute ignorance of Italians" on IP matters, why not take a moment to consider the identity of the author of the blogpost which has inspired you to make your comments: apart from being one of Europe's leading copyright scholars, Eleonora Rosati is -- as her name might suggest -- a true-blue Italian.

    Other distinguished Italians who are or who have been guest Kats are, in alphabetical order, Alberto Bellan, Laetitia Lagarde and Valentina Torelli. We are proud to number them among our dearest colleagues.

  5. @Anonymous on 16 Jan, 08:14: It's truly impressive how you manage to draw such broad conclusions from a single episode and make them applicable to an entire nation. Thankfully, despite Italy and Italians, the IP community can benefit from the enlightened expertise of people like you.

  6. I sense the racist Anonymous @8:14 is Italian.

  7. There are many excellent Italians in IP but they are frustrated by the system. It is not a question of being racist. The problem is that we have people like for example Mauro Masi representing the world of the Italian intellectual and industrial property rights .

  8. Maybe with the wrong words but Anon. 18:14 has made a point. The fact that the major newspaper in Italy proudly breaches copyrights is further proof that Italy (surprisingly still the fourth economy in Europe) desperately needs more IP awareness.

  9. @Anonymous on 16 Jan, 12:28: Again, this is an undue generalisation. It would be like saying that, since one of the major newspaper in the UK, The Telegraph, infringed someone's copyright (see here for an example:, then UK (surprisingly still the third economy in Europe) desperately needs more IP awareness.

  10. Eleanor's Hi,from Hoi An.( really good place for a holiday,great food and lovely people).
    Think your question re copyright breaches, done in a 'good cause' is the more interesting question.

  11. Eleonora sorry about the spill chick ,re your name.
    As for the BS about 'Italians' ,I suggest it is best not to even try to 'feed idiots', there are far to many of them, and they are always hungry.

  12. Here you may find my little contribution on this topic:

    In4me is a blog newly created by postgraduate students of IP law, Computer and Communication law and Media law at Queen Mary University of London.

  13. Maura,

    Thank you for a thoughtful and well composed letter.

    I would like to point out one (very) important item: Lawrence Lessig does not (and has not) written any actual law, and his opinions on what the laws should be are no more - and no less - important than say my (or your) own.

    In fact, since Mr. Lessig is active in advocating his own view of the law, I would daresay that his comments on what the CURRENT law means (or any actions to be taken under the current law), are quite possibly less important than an objectively trained legal practitioner. Indeed, since he seeks change, one might even use his stated views as a reflection of what the current law is NOT.

  14. Eleonora,
    I hope this blog will remain a place where one can politely spell out his/her opinion without the risk of being considered like an(other) idiot to feed.
    My comment (Anonymous on 16 Jan, 12:28) was not directed to the awareness of the many Italians (like yourself) who deservingly contribute to the European IP cultural debate.
    Rather, it was addressed to the need for the Italian political system and industry players to better understand the importance of IP.
    My opinion is that - to date - this has not been (sufficiently) done and, unfortunately, mine is not an isolated opinion (for instance
    That being said, as Italian, I hope that this will change in the better very soon and I will work every day for this to happen.

  15. @Anonymous on 19 Jan, 12:33: Thanks so much for clarifying what you meant. I very much agree with you in this respect. In fact, I believe that at least Italy should work on *both* improving the expertise and enhancing the role of those who are meant to formulate its policy positions at the national/EU/international level and lead the academic debate/teach new generations.

  16. While this is indeed a grave case of copyright infringement, I think we should be more cautious when it comes to broad generalizations. Why would one particular case of IP violation signify the overall state of IP rights in this particular country? I think we should first compare the situation in Italy with other countries, and only then draw conclusions.


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