FAQ Copyright

What can be protected by copyright?

In Italy are protected by copyright all those artworks that are original and have creative character (c.d. creative works), granting to the author economics rights in the work itself whatever the mode or form of expression may be. It is a wide range of works that belongs to various areas, ranging from the field of literature, music, the visual arts, architecture, theater, films, photography, etc…, to the protection of computer programs, database and television formats.

What are moral rights?

The term “moral rights” refers to the right of the creator/s:

  • to the authorship of the work, meaning that he/she/they must be credited for his/her/their work;
  • to the integrity of the work, meaning that any modification of the work that may somehow damage its reputation is forbidden;
  • to publication, meaning that the author an decide whether his/her work should be made public.

These rights are unalienable (meaning they persist even in case of transfer of the rights of economic use) and are temporally unlimited.

What are the economic rights?

The economic rights result in all the actions of use and disposal of an artwork carried out by its author – or his/her successor – which enable them to achieve an economic benefit. Among the most important economic rights, it can be mentioned the right to reproduce the work in any way and form, the distribution rights (i.e. the rights to market the artwork); the right to broadcast the artwork (e.g.: through television, radio, Internet etc.); the rights to modify the original work, etc.

When does copyright arise?

Copyright arises at the time when the artwork is created and no formality is required in order to obtain copyright recognition. In case of conflicts with third parties, one of the main problems may consist of establishing their exact time when the work has been created.

What is the duration of the economic rights of a work protected by copyright?

In Italy, pursuant to the general rule on the duration of copyright protection, copyright shall expire after seventy years from the author’s death or the death of the last co-author. Further to the expiration of those terms, a work falls into public domain.

What is the territorial scope of the protection of copyright?

Beyond the national borders, copyright protection finds its main source in the international treaties. The main treaty signed by Italy is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works for the mutual recognition of such rights within the territory of the Member Countries of the Convention.