Italy's anti-piracy campaigners are feeling upbeat after two recent successes.

The first involved the handing down of a tough sentence by an appeals court in Naples, the country's unofficial piracy capital, in a case that began in 1999.

The sentence, which was announced on March 12, concerned a local gang that had sold illegal CDs during the 1990s.

Its ringleader, nicknamed "The Emperor," was given a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence for "conspiracy to violate copyright law," while his seven accomplices received sentences that ranged from 18 months to three years.

The major labels' representative body, FIMI, along with the Italian branches of EMI, Universal, Sony BMG and Warner Music, had also sued the defendants for damages. The prosecution in the criminal case was led by Luciano D'Angelo, head of the Naples District's Anti-Mafia team.

The judge ordered the defendants to pay damages, which is to be defined in a separate civil claim.

The second anti-piracy result concerns an extensive anti-file-sharing operation, led by law enforcement agents in the northern Italian city of Bergamo.

The operation, conducted by members of Italy's Guardia di Finanza, or "fiscal police," led to the uncovering of a major peer-to-peeer network that illegally uploaded music, film and software in the Lombardy, Piedmont and Lazio regions.

Some five servers were seized, as were 16 PCs, 27 hard discs, 1,000 CDs and DVDs, plus several thousand MP3 files. Eleven individuals were subsequently reported to the authorities for violation of Italian copyright law 633/41.

In a joint statement released on March 19, FIMI and Italy's main anti-piracy organization, FPM, said: "The music industry is satisfied. This latest episode brings to 170 the number of people in Italy who have been reported to the authorities for illegal file-sharing since 2005."