Italian labels body FIMI and anti-piracy association FPM have jointly expressed a "strong sense of disappointment" at a government decree on illegal file-sharing. "The decree makes Italy the only Euro

Italian labels body FIMI and anti-piracy association FPM have jointly expressed a "strong sense of disappointment" at a government decree on illegal file-sharing.

The Decreto Urbani (Urbani Decree), named after its author, the culture minister Giuliano Urbani, would make the file-sharing of copyright-protected film content a criminal offence, especially when done so for financial gain. It does not however offer the same protection for file-sharing involving music content, literary works or computer software.

The Urbani decree was originally proposed after a cabinet meeting in mid-March, but modifications were added after hearings held by the Italian parliament's Culture Commission on April 5. For the decree to become law, it has to be voted on by a full parliamentary session; the next such session is scheduled for April 21.

"We feel that the minister has made a grave error of judgement," FIMI director general Enzo Mazza tells Billboard.biz. "He has been poorly advised, presumably by representatives of the film industry," Mazza continues. "When the decree was originally passed in March, we felt that legislation wasn't necessary, as there were already good copyright laws, including the application of the EU copyright directive, on the Italian statute books. But this modification effectively cancels all that. It's disastrous."

In a statement, FPM secretary general Luca Vespignani adds: "The decree makes Italy the only European country where the illegal sharing of music files is tolerated. Instead of defending the concept of copyright, this law buries it."

It is not the first time Urbani has disappointed Italy's beleaguered recorded music industry. In March 2002, he assured industry representatives that the country's 20% sales on CDs would be lowered "by the summer." Two years on, it remains at 20%.

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