5.1.7 Copyright provisions
There is a long tradition of copyright in Italy. Law 633, issued in 1941, is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary law protecting property rights of writers, drama authors, film authors, musicians, visual artists (including droit de suite: see further). Responsible for the collection of copyright royalties in all the above mentioned artistic disciplines is SIAE (Societa Italiana Autori Editori).
This basic law was followed by several others, specifically designed to comply with European directives. Among these, Law 93/1992 introduced a tax on blank audiotapes and videotapes in order to compensate authors and producers for the economic damage they suffered from private copying.
It was not until 2000 that a long-overdue update of the copyright Law (248/2000) was made. The revisions acknowledged the dramatic technological changes that occurred in the cultural and communication system as a whole in the last sixty years. Significantly, Law 248 also established much stricter criminal and administrative sanctions against piracy which has become a remarkable and widespread phenomenon in Italy, as well as a constant source of contention with commercial partners. Subsequently, Decree 72/2004 provided for heavy fines and other administrative sanctions aimed at fighting the illegal distribution of films and audiovisual material protected by copyright on the web. In 2009, though, a new draft law has been submitted to the Parliament, to better reconcile the rights to protect artistic and literary creation, and the rights to a less restricted utilisation of digital content on the web, which penalises access to culture, in particular for the younger generation. The introduction of "lending rights" in public libraries is also envisaged.
A further legislative measure in the copyright field has been the much delayed adoption, by Leg. Decree 118 of February 2006, of the European Directive 2001/84/Ce, concerning droit de suite for visual artists - that is the right for artists to benefit from the possible increase in the value of their work by getting a percentage of commercial transactions subsequent to the first one. In fact, the above mentioned anticipatory legal provisions for droit de suite, adopted by Italy in the framework of copyright Law 633/1941, had never been actually implemented – and would have probably never been, without prompting by the EU – also because of problems related to the notorious lack of transparency of the Italian art market. To bring more transparency into the field could thus be a positive outcome of European legislation. A quite controversial aspect of Decree 118 deals with its provision for an immediate application of droit de suite also in favour of the heirs of the dead artists, without taking advantage of the transitional period allowed by the European Directive: the living artists were in fact supposed to be the main beneficiaries of this long awaited measure. These rights, along with all the other copyrights, will be collected by SIAE and redistributed to the artists or their heirs. The law finally came into force in 2008, after the adoption of the implementing regulation by Presidential Decree 275/2007.