Overturning earlier convictions for illegal duplication against two students who set up a peer-to-peer network in 1994, January 2007 saw the top criminal court in Rome state that downloading films, music or software from the internet is not a crime if done for no profit.
Although many file-sharers saw this as good news, some areas were still not clear, including what the law constitutes as profit. Additionally, this was a ‘downloading’ law, it only made it legal to download material – uploading remained illegal, an essential operation of file-sharing via the BitTorrent protocol.
In the latest development, the Italian Vice Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli said that the government will no longer turn a blind eye to file-sharing and it will be taking significant steps to deal with the issue, including treating it as a criminal offense in the future.
Rutelli declared “The practice of file-sharing is an abuse of intellectual property laws and of copyright protection that has been ignored because it is difficult to enforce. The freedom of Italian citizens will not be limited, but this illegal activity must be halted.”
The application of P2P law seems a little confused in Italy, particularly when you consider the ambiguous nature of some of the government statements. It’s believed these latest comments relate to the operation of P2P file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent trackers, hosted on Italian servers.