"The Italian Parliament recently approved an amendment to
copyright law. The new rules have been in force since September 18,
2000 as law 248/2000. The new mechanism is as yet unclear, but we
suspect that it might hinder or even put a stop to the work of
anyone producing software or using it in their business. The main
problem of the law lies in the requirement for a compulsory stamp
(the "bollino SIAE") on any physical medium containing computer
programs (Art 181-bis, 1). This requirement adds to previous rules
that consider any unauthorised copying of computer software a
criminal offence (rather than simply a civil offence). As a
consequence, possession of computer programs on non-stamped medium,
either legally or illegally, may lead to a prison sentence."
"The scope of the new law is not limited to software, and can
also be damaging to other spheres of personal freedom. We will
concentrate here on the issues of computer programs, as we consider
them the most serious. It has been observed that the law, in fact,
introduces a sort of tax on freely distributable software. We think
that these concerns are valid, but the problem as we see it is much
"Since we were not able to find any substantial commentary on
this law on the net, we made our own research, by interviewing SIAE
officers, Guardia di Finanza1, Postal and Telecommunications
Police, magistrates and copyright lawyers."
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