Software Protected Under Italian Copyright Law
Under Italian copyright law, all software is protected if it satisfies the relevant requirements, regardless of whether it has been formally registered. However, to prove creation, software programs can be registered in the Special Public Register for Computer Programs or filed as unpublished works if they have not yet been published or used. Software may patented upon condition that it contains at least one algorithm that is innovative from the technical point of view.
The protection of software extends to the entire Italian territory, the State of San Marino and the Vatican City (for a total of roughly 324,000 square kilometers and about 60 million inhabitants).
Which Software Qualifies for Registration
All software qualifies for registration if it meets the requirements of creativity and at least minimal originality with respect to preexisting works, including elaborations and variations of existing works.
How to Register
Registration in the Special Public Register at the OLAF Section of the Italian Society for Authors and Publishers may be requested either by the authors/right holders or by their professional agents, by filing a special form as well as the software.
Effects of the Registration
Registration serves as proof of the date of the software’s creation and of other data contained in the file: authorship, title, date of publication.
Exclusive Rights on Software
The exclusive rights on software comprise the right of economic exploitation of the program as well as the right to carry out or authorize any form of reproduction, translation, adaptation, transformation, modification and distribution of the software.
The ownership of the registration and, therefore, of the software program lies with its creator or with his Italian or foreign successor in title.
The copyright on a program and its registration in the Special Public Register may be freely assigned to third parties. Assignments will be recorded in the Special Public Register.
Infringement of software copyrights can be prosecuted and sanctioned both under civil law (Articles 156-170 Copyright Law) and under criminal law (Article 171 bis or, alternatively, Article 171 of Copyright Law). Legislative Decree No. 658/94 also provides for an administrative sanction (Article 171 quater Copyright Law) for the unlawful renting of hardware reproducing the software, even though the hardware is lawfully produced.
The holder of copyrights in a software may request customs protection, involving the detention at customs of goods infringing those rights.
EEC Directive 91/250 of May 14, 1991, Legislative Decree No. 518 of December 29, 1992 and Decree of the Prime Minister of 3 January 1994 No. 244.