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Protection and ownership

Copyrightable works

What works are eligible for copyright protection in your jurisdiction?

Copyright applies to intellectual works with a creative character relating to literature, music, figurative arts, architecture, theatre or cinematography, whatever their means or form of expression. However, in order to access the protection granted by the legislation, the work must satisfy the prerequisite of novelty. The law does not consider lawfulness, merit or value of the work as prerequisites to copyright protection, as they are both subjective and ever changing.

Are there any special provisions for the protection of non-artistic works (eg, software and databases)?

Italian law protects databases that, by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents, constitute the author’s own intellectual creation (Article 1(2) of the Copyright Act). In particular, the protected databases are understood as being collections of works, data or other independent elements systematically or methodically arranged and individually accessible by electronic means or otherwise. The protection of databases does not extend to their content and is without prejudice to rights relating to the said content (Article 2(9) of the Copyright Act). Software is also included in the list of works protected by the Copyright Act, and is regarded as literature (Article 1(2)). In particular, the list includes software of any kind, providing that it is the result of an intellectual effort originally made by the author (Article 2(8)). Lastly, meaningful slogans can also be considered as intellectual works, as can advertising campaigns that involve a complex and creative plan.  

Are any works explicitly excluded from copyright protection?

Copyright protects only the form of the work, but not its information or expressive content. Therefore, mere ideas are not subject to protection.

Related IP rights

Can copyrightable works be protected by other IP rights (eg, trademarks and designs)?

Industrial design works are also subject to copyright if, besides having a creative character, they also have an inherent artistic value. In some cases, an intellectual work such as a design or a graphic work can become a protected trademark for the exact visual representation for which it is registered.  

Lastly, a sculpture protected as artwork can be also registered as a three-dimensional trademark.  



Who may own copyright in a work?

Unless proved otherwise, those who are indicated as the authors of a work during the recitation, performance or broadcasting of the work are considered as its authors, as specifically provided for in Article 8 of the Copyright Act. Therefore, those who declare to be the authors of a work are considered as such unless proved otherwise.   

Joint and collective ownership

What rules and restrictions govern the joint or collective ownership of a copyright work?

Article 7 of the Copyright Act defines the ‘author of a collective work’ as the person who organises and directs the creation of that work: work performance does not suffice. A person who has created a derivative work is deemed the author of that work within the limits of his or her own effort. Article 10 of the Copyright Act establishes that if the work has been created by the indistinguishable and inseparable contributions of two or more persons, the copyright belongs to all the authors jointly.

Employee and commissioned work

What rules and restrictions govern the ownership of copyright in a work created in the course of employment (including works by employees and commissioned works by independent contractors)?

The person (ie, employee) who has directly created the work is always entitled to moral rights, which are inalienable and non-transferable. The rights to the economic exploitation of the intellectual work created by an employee during the course of his or her employment or by a contractor during the performance of a contract are not automatically conferring upon the employer as a natural consequence of the contract in place between the parties, except in respect of software, databases (Article 12bis of the Copyright Act) and industrial design works (Article 12ter). Other than these three exceptions, the employer should always rigorously and carefully formulate contracts with employees and contractors so as to avoid disputes as to the ownership of proprietary rights.

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