THE PROTECTION OF BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS

Can we freely write, publish or tell the lives of famous people?

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On this point the Court of Milan (IP Section) recently rendered a descision to settle a dispute between two authors (Antonio Prestigiacomo and Marcello Sorgi) on the life of the Sicilian Prince Raimondo Lanza di Trabia, the man who invented the soccer transfer market and who was Rita Hayworth's lover and a close friend of Onassis.

The Court ruled that in the case of biographical works of well-known personalities, the facts and events that affected them belong to the common patrimony and are not autonomously monopolizable by anyone. Copyright protection protects instead the formal choices, the stylistic and editorial techniques, created by an author.

The Court ruled that the text of plaintiff Antonio Prestigiacomo, "The Restless Prince. The life of Raimondo Lanza di Trabia "undoubtedly enjoys copyright protection both in terms of originality and novelty. As for the originality, Prestigiacomo’s Book is in fact configured as the personal result of the harmonization of real facts, also historical, and true facts, organized and stylistically reworked with a particular technique. The text is in fact the fruit of the alternation, in the narrative fabric, of interviews articulated in questions and answers, clearly identifiable by the presence of the quotation marks, made by the author to various characters who have had direct knowledge of the Prince.

However, the Court ruled that with respect to the identity of the main character and of many events narrated, there is a certain distance between the two stories, so to believe that they are autonomous creative works, belonging to different genres, each individually protected.

The work of Prestigiacomo cannnot in the end be considered plagiarized by that of Marcello Sorgi and that the biographical works of well-known personalities, but not with reference to the facts and the events that concerned them,are not monopolizable.

Italian Radio Station Sentenced to Pay Overdue Neighboring rights

The Court of Milan, with ruling notified on August 2, 2015 sentenced that the nation wide known station radio RTL is obliged to pay to SCF, the Italian consortium of  record producers a sum equal to 2% of the gross receipts.

The judges of the court of Milan have ruled in the context of disputes brought by SCF in 2009 against the major Italian national radio networks. This past April SCF has reached an agreement with other broadcasters involved and judgment continued only against RTL that has not adhered to these arrangements.

The Court, after repeating the substantive and procedural legitimacy of SCF, sentenced  that in the absence of other agreements between the parties, the extent of the compensation for the direct disk or similar device due to the manufacturer in accordance with art. 73 L.A. is equal to 2% of the proceeds.

Creative Commons : Ideas Worth Spreading.

An inflexible copyright policy that prevents any type of disclosure could be anachronistic in the digital era. To realize the full potential of the Internet, encouraging a spreading creativity, many possibilities have been thought. Many of them have been just utopian, but one of these showed a revolutionary potential.

That’s the so called “Creative Commons”.

Launched in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and one of the leading experts of Copyright Law, this project achieved a large success and a wide application in the recent years.

Creative Commons licenses are not against copyright, instead they depend on the existence of copyright. These licenses are legal tools that creators and other rights holders can choose to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving some other rights.

Those who want to make their work available to the public for limited uses while preserving their copyright may want to consider using CC licenses. Others who want to reserve all of their rights under copyright law wouldn’t choose to use it. Creative Commons licenses offer creators a wide spectrum of choices between keeping all rights and renouncing all rights (public domain), an approach that we call "Some Rights Reserved."

Creators can choose among different protection regimes. While some of them refrain commercial uses or the sharing of adaptations, others grant just a minimum protection consisting in the paternity right.  The author doesn’t need any authorization or permission before licensing his work under CC, he just has to decide which conditions he wants to apply to his work. Accordingly, each work will be shared with a different disclaimer, an user friendly detailed tag.

Creative Commons is not an alternative to collecting societies, but a no-profit organization. Therefore all licenses can be use for free with any authorization requirements.

In Italy  Creative Commons could be perceived as an obstacle as it could be interpreted as incompatible with the authority granted by the Italian Copyright Law of 1942 to SIAE, the legal monopolistic society for the management of copyright in Italy.

The recent Directive 2014/26/EU states, however, the principle that rights holders should be able to freely choose to entrust the protection of their works to the collective management bodies they consider most appropriate, also to independent management entities, regardless of the state of nationality. The Directive also grants the authors the right to divide the protection of their works between different collecting societies.

The new standards should promote the coexistence of the CC licenses with the traditional collecting societies, to create a more flexible and efficient system of protection.

This system thought by Lessig affirms a belief in copyright, because it is in essence a copyright license, but it also affirms the innate value of those digital environments where the rules of exchange are not necessarily defined by economic criteria.