International Music Industry Urges US Trade Action on Italy Over Suspended Anti-Piracy Law

IFPI Press Release, April 14, 2000

US Should Designate Italy Priority Foreign Country on
Failure to Enact Long-Promised Bill

London – April 14, 2000

IFPI, representing the international recording industry, today urged the US government to take formal trade measures in response to Italy’s decision to postpone adoption of its long-awaited anti-piracy law.

The suspension of the law, which would raise criminal penalties and strengthen police powers against Italy’s soaring levels of copyright piracy, reneges on repeated pledges by Rome to adopt the six-year-old draft legislation. The latest of these was made only in late-March during the visit to Rome of a delegation of European recording industry heads.

IFPI, acting with its US sister organization the RIAA, has now joined the US copyright industries coalition IIPA in urging the US government to designate Italy a “Priority Foreign Country” when it publishes its Special 301 review on 1 May. That would open a six-month procedure that could lead to trade sanctions against Italy.

Italy is in breach of world trade (TRIPS) rules under which it is obliged to provide adequate copyright enforcement. In particular, it has failed to impose deterrent criminal penalties against piracy.

IFPI Chairman and CEO Jay Berman said: “We are extremely disappointed. Italy has one of the highest piracy rates in western Europe. This law is designed to provide the necessary legal framework for effective enforcement. The decision to postpone consideration is troublesome in particular because of the positive message that was conveyed to recording industry executives by government officials only 10 days ago. In the light of this long history of delays, we fully support the petition to designate Italy as a priority foreign country.”

Italy’s music piracy rate is presently 25%, compared to less than 10% in every other country of the European Union except Greece. The pirate market is estimated to be worth US$150 million.

Background on the Anti-Piracy Bill

  • The Anti-Piracy Bill was first drafted in 1994 and then proposed by the government in October 1996, following concerted pressure by the music industry both domestically and internationally. The Bill was passed in the Senate last year but was withdrawn at the last minute despite repeated assurances that it would go forward. With regional elections approaching, it faces indefinite delay.
  • The Bill would have significantly helped in the fight against piracy. It would have increased criminal penalties and jail terms for all forms of piracy. For serious commercial piracy, present fines of L.5 million ($2,00) and jail terms of between 3 months and 3 years would rise to L. 30 million ($15,300) and jail terms of between 1 and 4 years.
  • The Bill also provides administrative sanctions. These include powers to revoke business license from retailers involved in piracy; and the formation of a new government Anti-Piracy Committee to coordinate State anti-piracy efforts.

For further information contact:
Adrian Strain, Director of Communications, IFPI: 44 171 878 7939

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