The Italian legislator has finally fully implemented the European Community Directive 93/98 on the Harmonisation of the Duration of Copyright Protection and Other Related Rights.

Law no. 52/96 the Italian Legislature has allowed the government to enact laws implementing the abovementioned directive, with the result that the duration of proprietary rights for authors of artistic works was extended from fifty years to seventy years after the death of the author.

Now, with the recent Decree no.154/97 the government has clarified the points which up until now had remained somewhat obscure, eliminating the existing differences between the provisions of the abovementioned Community Directive and Italian law regarding the scope and duration of the protection, and introducing detailed rules in this regard.

By way of example and to summarise: the economic rights of the author of cinematographic works last for a period of seventy years from the death of the last surviving co-author; those arising from photographic works seventy years from the death of the photographer; those from collaborative works seventy years from the date of the first publication thereof; those from annotated and critical editions of literary works in the public domain, twenty years from the date of the first issue.

The same Decree has also introduced another article, i.e., Art. 46-bis, in the copyright law, which provides for reasonable "non-waivable" compensation to the author of cinematographic works for every single public broadcast "on television, via satellite or cable" or any other medium. A "reasonable non-waivable compensation" now also applies to "the translation or adaptation of Italian screenplays"; moreover, the same applies to the "artistic interpretation and execution of the screenplay" and for each broadcast of the same, be it on television, via satellite or cable or any other medium, and for any other use except for the recording or hire of same. Note however that the interpreter's contribution must be of significant artistic importance.

These rules represent a particular application of the general principles of Art. 180 Para. 5 of the Law on Copyright, in terms of which part of the earnings derived from the licence fee and from the commercial utilisation of the protected works should in any case be paid to the author.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.