Enforcing copyright in Turin may be more than just a good idea

Efficiently provided by this Kat’s friend and former colleague Cecilia Zambelli, a recent Italian copyright decision details the latest instalment in the protection of moral rights in this country. 

This is an interim order of the Court of First Instance of Turin in which Mr Riccardo Pagani was acknowledged as the author of the famous FIAT advert “FIAT 500 Cult Yacht”, which was also awarded a number of prizes, including the 2014 Cannes Lion at the International Festival of Creativity and the first prize at the 2014 IF! Italians Festival, organised by the Art directors Italian club.

FIAT 500 Cult
Unfortunately, Leo Burnett Company Srl, being the defendant as well as Mr Pagani’s former employer, did not acknowledge Mr Pagani as the originator of the idea for the advert’s script. The promotional TV video was realised four years after Mr Pagani conceived it, and when he had been already fired. It was solely following several submissions to FIAT, this being the advert commissioner, that two actual Leo Burnett Company employees implemented Pagani’s original idea, in their quality of Art Director and Copy Writer, respectively.

In the operative part of the decision the Court clarified that an advert, as the one under exam, can be undoubtedly protected by copyright, and that Mr Pagani’s contribution to the script was not solely by means of an unprotectable idea. The Court explained that commercials are complex works because they bring together visual and sound elements to catch the public’s attention in a short time span. The idea behind an advert (intended as its project which includes the message, the way it is expressed and the identification of the recipients) is a fundamental feature of an advert.

Irrespective of the parties’ discussion on whether a script is a creative work resulting in its author’s recognition of the advert’s authorship the Court of Turin had to answer to two questions.

First, whether Pagani’s script of the advert could entitle him to be considered moral author of the “FIAT 500 Cult Yacht” commercial, provided that the controversy was not deemed to cover the autonomous protection of scripts as literary works; secondly, whether in the case at hand, and not in abstract terms applicable to all scripts, Pagani’s script could entitle him to the advert’s authorship, in the view of its content, the relation with the final advert and the way it had been made available inside and outside Leo Burnett Company.

The idea for the advert was already set out in all its main features in Pagani’s script (ie a Mediterranean environment, a wise narrator’s voice, status symbols for richness to be blamed), as documented in the evidence presented, this being Pagani’s agenda containing the commercial’s tagline and a short brochure describing such idea:
“The 500, so small, ecological, accessible and smart represents a real and own philosophy of life. A philosophy that is depicted in this spot through a nonsense, in provocative fashion but – precisely for this reason – by its own it is very close to spirit of the car”.
The Court held that Pagani had already projected the advert, as contained in his script and there existed something more than an idea floating at Leo Burnett Company which was simply developed afterwards. Consequently, both the requirements for the interim proceeding to succeed were met.

Mr Pagani’s colleagues confirmed that they had taken inspiration from his script when they made the advert, notably when reproducing Pagani’s tagline “one day you will realise that the size of your car does not matter at all, what really matters is the size of your yacht”, and the evidence submitted led to the conclusion that Mr Pagani was to be considered the moral author of the advert.

Moreover, far from being simply a symbolic recognition, being granted authorship credit could help Mr Pagani optimise now, although maybe not so easily in the future, all the intangible assets inherent to the spot’s acknowledgement: finding new job opportunities, avoiding struggling with a challenging burden of the proof of the damages suffered for the career chances lost, always considering that the professional reputation live upon recognition and gratification that, as the spot preached, cannot be minimised in monetary terms.

In conclusion, while waiting for the outcome of the proceedings on the merits, Leo Burnett Company was ordered by the Court of Turin to rectify the authorship credits by sending the relevant sector’s interested parties a statement that would include acknowledgment of Mr Pagani’s as one of the authors of the“FIAT 500 Cult Yacht” spot.

“It doesn’t take much to be happy, enjoy the simplest and truest thing”… and enforce your copyright!
Enforcing copyright in Turin may be more than just a good idea Enforcing copyright in Turin may be more than just a good idea Reviewed by valentina torelli on Saturday, May 16, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. Please use a single font size, thanks.

  2. Anonymous -- the Blogger software is quite unstable and often refuses to cooperate. On this occasion it had been set to a single font size, but this didn't show when the article was posted. I've spent about 20 minutes sorting it out :-(

  3. May I say how much I enjoyed this post.
    Tobermory Cat


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