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

December 2007


The IFPI report that Italian police have arrested and 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. Officers were acting on search warrants issued by 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 although here at Music Law Updates we were not clear how the police could issue a fine of such magnitude – on the spot fines for drunkenness are one thing, but a twelve million Euro (over eight million pounds) seems an awful lot. A request for clarification to the Italian record label association FIMI has unfortunately not been answered at the time of publication but our friends at the puuurfect IPKat (Thank you Professor Jeremy Phillips) and Italian attorney Luca Giove added the following “I think that the Italian police authorities probably applied Article 174bis of the Italian Copyright Act, which is not available in the WIPO text but was introduced in 2000 and amended in 2003. Pursuant to this provision an administrative fine is applicable in addition to the criminal fine for each violation of the criminal provisions on copyright. The fine is therefore proportional to the number of infringed copyright works and/or copies. Each violation may carry an administrative fine of between Euro 103 to Euro 1,032: Euro 103 x 120,000 files is approximately Euro 12,000,000” and “under Italian law it is possible to issue administrative fines even of this magnitude without taking any court action before.  Nevertheless, pursuant to Law no. 689/81 fines can be challenged before the competent courts (before being paid).

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