The Italian government has suggested that it could radically modify the Decreto Urbani (Urbani Decree) on copyright and file-sharing one week after it was placed on the statute books (ELW, May 31).

MILAN -- The Italian government has suggested that it could radically modify the Decreto Urbani (Urbani Decree) on copyright and file-sharing one week after it was placed on the statute books (ELW, May 31).

The decree, named for its sponsor, culture minister Giuliano Urbani, imposes a fine of 154 euros ($188) on downloaders of illegal files. "Uploaders" face prison sentences of between six months and three years.

However, after government Web sites were sabotaged by hackers, apparently in an angry response to the new law, the minister of innovation and technology, Lucio Stanca, announced that a modification was being considered.

The Urbani decree was passed by a government majority in the Italian Senate on May 19 and officially became law on May 24. That same day, hackers put the Web sites of the culture ministry, the tax collecting ministry and collecting society SIAE out of action for several hours.

Since the protests, Stanca has suggested that the decree's strongest measure be dropped. The measure extends punishment for copyright infringement from those who do it for "financial gain" to those who do it "for profit" -- thereby making free file-swapping a crime.

Industry body FIMI, which welcomed the Urbani decree, describes the idea of modification as "absurd." In a statement, director-general Enzo Mazza says: "The passage of the decree led to an immediate drop in illegal file-sharing, which proves that it was effective. Now, with elections coming up, the government is giving in to blackmail by pirates."

Italy is due to vote in European and local elections on June 12-13.

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