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Italian File-Sharing Sentences Overturned

Good news from Turn where an appellate judge of the Corte di Cassazone (the highest appeal court) this week overturned the conviction of two students sentenced to three months and ten days imprisonment for sharing files via an FTP server located at Turin Polytechnic. They had been charged under sections 171 bis and 171 ter of the copyright law (n. 633/41). These articles criminalize the distribution and reproduction of copyrighted works ‘for purposes of commercial gain’. But the court rejected this hypothesis (in italian) on the basis that their activity was aimed at the exchange and sharing of multimedia works, but that to fall within the sphere covered by the criminal law there must be evidence ‘of an appreciable economic gain’ accruing to the culprit, and that this gain cannot be constituted by other means – referring presumaly to the thesis whereby use of other works without having to pay for them would suffice as proof of ‘gain’.

The significance of the decision is however questionable given that the law was changed by the so-called Urbani (minister at the time) amendments of 2004, notably making the downloading of copyrighted materials an administrative offence, and their sharing a criminal act.

Update: see also Pierluigi Perri’s blog entry on the case.

January 20, 2007 - Posted by | copyright, enforcement, italy, p2p, social cooperation

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