Has Italy legalised P2P file sharing?

March 2008


The Italian parliament may have unwittingly legalized sharing music over P2P networks. A new copyright law, passed by both houses of parliament, would allow Italians to freely share music over the Internet as long as it was noncommercial and the music “degraded”. Italian copyright attorney Andrea Monti told Italian paper La Republica that whoever authored the law failed to take into account that the word “degraded” has a very precise meaning when it comes to computer files. Slashdot points out that all music sold on the major music download sites is degraded in some form or another so in theory music fans would be able to freely share their music libraries over P2P networks although the law does limit such sharing to “educational or scientific” use. The legislation still needs to be published in the Italian Official Journal to pass into law. The Recording Industry in Europe has already suffered a number of setbacks including last months ruling by the European Court of Justice (Promusicae v Telefonica, see below) setting out guidelines that domestic courts must use when balancing the rights of copyright owners against the privacy rights of consumers in civil cases and German prosecutors have refused to pursue criminal claims against individual downloaders calling them “petty offenses.” Finally a Swiss antipiracy firm who dodged these problems by filing criminal copyright infringement cases and then switching to civil actions once the identity of the internet user in question was obtained has been told by the Swiss government to drop this practice.

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