In order to qualify for protection under Italian copyright law, works must involve an intellectual effort, possess a creative character and belong to literature, music, the figurative arts, architecture, theatre or cinematography. Software is also protected, as are data bases whose choice or arrangement of content involve a creative effort on the part of the author. Under Italian copyright law, industrial designs having creative character and artistic value are also protectable.
Under Italian copyright law, a work enjoys protection as an effect, and from the moment, of its creation. Save for certain cases, registration is therefore not a condition for protection, but it is advisable since it constitutes evidence of the authorship and existence of the registered work as from a specific date.
Except for cinematographic works and computer programs, which may be entered in special registers kept by the Italian Association of Authors and Publishers (S.I.A.E.), all other published works protected by copyright may be registered with the Copyright Service of the Ministry of Culture. Unpublished works may be registered in a separate register kept by S.I.A.E.
Only unpublished works, or works whose first publication took place in Italy, may be registered. Works whose first publication took place abroad do not qualify for copyright registration in Italy. In addition, copyright protection for foreign works is granted in Italy whenever conditions of reciprocity apply.
Italy is a member of the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works as well as of the Universal Copyright Convention. Therefore, any work first published in a country belonging either to the Berne Convention or to the Universal Copyright Convention enjoys copyright protection in Italy.
A special stamp of the Italian Association of Authors and Publishers (S.I.A.E.) must be affixed on each support containing computer or multimedia programs and on each copy of works containing sounds, voices or images in motion. The stamp must contain the following information about the work: a progressive number identifying every copy, an indication of its intended form of distribution (sale, rent or other) as well as the work’s title and names of author, producer and copyright holder. Failure to affix the S.I.A.E. stamp where required is an offence according to Italian law.