Freedom of Press Reviews addressed to the single user: a case study

Jurisprudence has not yet faced the topic of copyright and press review for what concerns the usage of the editorial content of newspapers the day after their publication, and there is not even a specific law ruling those aspects. With this background the judgement issued by the Court of Rome on January 18, 2017is particularly interesting.

The question submitted to the examination of the trial judge concerned the legitimacy, in light of art. 65 and 101 (Copyright law of Italy no. 633/1941), of the usage of newspaper articles or part of them by companies operating the press magazines without the consent of the publishers who own the rights of economic exploitation, as authors of the collective work (newspaper or review) and therefore  proprietor of the right to consent or prevent to any third party to reproduce it or part of it.

The Court of Rome affirmed that art. 65 Copyright law of Italy, stating “the free reproducibility of the articles published in magazines or newspapers, broadcasted or made available to the public” except if “the reproduction or usage was not expressly reserved”, and art. 101 Copyright law of Italy, specifying that the reproduction of pieces of information and news is lawful unless it is performed by acts against the honest usage of the journalistic field and only if the source is quoted, do not apply to means of communication other than newspapers and magazines aiming at hindering possible competitive infringements.

As a result, these forbidden cases do not include press reviews which is a different means of communication that is not intended to satisfy the general need for information like newspapers, but a specific individual need. To satisfy it, the companies in the sector select articles or parts of them which were already published referred to the topics the single client is interested to, communicating it only to him/her without publishing it for the generic public, the one who reads newspapers and magazines.

Therefore, the Court of Rome do not considers the reproduction for an exclusive use of the clients in press reviews of articles already published in newspapers or reviews an infringement of the rights of newspapers’ publishers. Nevertheless, the Court wishes for a legislative intervention.

The decision is rather pioneering and it is worth considering how it would affect jurisprudence.

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