What is Copyright?

Copyright is an institute which protects creative works, such as books, music, artworks, architectural works, theater, cinema and much more.

This well-structured right in Italy is regulated by Italy’s Copyright law, of April 22nd 1941, no. 633.

In addition to this law, there is an international normative and conventions which regulate copyright also outside the Italian territory.

Copyright is very different to the rights on Patents, Trademarks and Designs for its content, its duration and the way to obtain it.

How does copyright work?

Copyright protection concerns creative works pertaining to art, literature, music, cinematography, whatever the way or form of expression.

Computer programs, that is software, also belong to the field of the Copyright Law, which considers them as literary works and, in some cases, can also be patented. 

The list provided for in art. 1 of the Copyright Law is considered by way of example, therefore the protection can extend even to different works from the ones expressly indicated by the Law. 

The concept of creativity is not intended as an absolute. Rather, it refers to the personal and individual expression of an objectiveness. 

It follows that not only “literary” works in the strict sense of the word (poetry, essay writing, narrative) are protected, but also those texts in which the works are used for communicating informative data that is elaborated and organized in a personal and independent way by the author (Cass. Civ. 11953/1993).

The work must have an expressive form, in order to be protected. 

A protection for creative thinking, beyond an organized recognizable form, in an absolute sense does not exist. 

The protected form is both the “external one”, such as the text of a work or the realization of a painting, and the “internal” one, intended as:

  • the structured organization of certain ideas
  • the plot of a book
  • the relation among subjects in a picture. 

Simple ideas, on the other hand, are not protected. Ideas cannot be protected and are freely appropriatable, in the way one can acquire a lesson from a book and make it one’s own without asking for the author’s consent.


Who owns copyright owns many rights

The copyright’s owner has first of all the moral right to be recognized as the work’s author, but this is not all.

The copyrights’ owner has the economic rights, which gives the right to:

  • Publish and use the work in any form and way
  • Reproduce the work, multiplying it by any means      
  • Execute, represent or show it publicly
  • Diffuse it, by distance communication means
  • Distribute it and market it by any means
  • Translate, elaborate, transform the work
  • Rent it
  • Lend it

The fact that the right is reserved to the author means that no one else can carry out one or more of the above-mentioned operations without the author’s consent and, almost always, without      a corresponding relative sum.

Turini Group assists the author in every case of plagiarism or infringement of rights, but also in the phase of negotiating a copyright assignment or license. 

The authors very often find themselves signing contracts with record, editing companies or accepting their conditions without too much discussion. On the contrary, it is extremely important to be assisted by an expert attorney at law, who can guide the author and suggest the best contractual solution.

It is important to remember that anyone who benefits from copyright can “fragment” the right, which means that one can decide to license the right to reproduce the work by one particular means but not by another one, or can sell a painting but prevent the acquirer from photographing it and reproducing it on t-shirts and so on.

For this reason, the assistance of an expert lawyer is essential in every copyright management phase.

Turini Group has expert lawyers in copyright, particularly in the field of publishing, music, art, NFT and Internet copyright.

The experience of Turini Group is very advanced and aimed at new technologies, to offer innovative services and assistance to those who work in the multimedia world.

Copyright is (almost) forever

The right of economic exploitation of a work lasts for the entire life of the author and until 70 years after his or her death.

At the end of this period, the work passes into public domain which makes possible the free publication of the works of authors who have been dead for more than seventy years.

Even if the rights’ work were assigned in light of a publishing contract with a publishing company – regardless of the fact that the maximum duration of this type of contract is 20 years (art. no. 122 of the Italian Copyright Law) – the object of a publishing contract is the economic exploitation rights. These rights belong to the author along with the content for the duration determined by the Law (art. no 119 of the Italian Copyright Law). For this reason, the contract could never exceed the duration of the copyright referred to in art. 25 of the Italian Copyright Law.

To this rule, art. 20 of the Copyright Law adds the protection of the moral right of the author which is exercisable from the heirs without a “time limit”, pursuant to art. 23 of the Copyright Law.

Therefore, it is possible to publish a work for which the economic rights elapsed, providing the honor of the artist is not undermined, or that it does not create a prejudice against his or her reputation – in such case the heirs could intervene in defense of the deceased author.

How can you obtain copyright?

Copyright is obtained with the sole creation of the work.

Differently from patents, trademarks and designs, copyright does not require a registration. It is sufficient to demonstrate to be the author of the work and to have first created it.

Nevertheless, the proof of ownership is not always straightforward. In legal proceedings, the ownership is fought over frequently, often spending months or even years before having the right acknowledged.

Therefore, depositing the work at an institution that certifies the date is suggested, in order to prove the work’s ownership easily.

In Italy, this role is taken primarily by SIAE, where one can deposit a series of works, even unpublished ones.

SIAE releases a certificate after the deposit, in which it assigns a number and a date of deposit. But SIAE does not control the content of what has been deposited. Therefore, if one deposits a work at SIAE that is not protectable by copyright, no right will be acquired with the deposit, even if the deposit had been accepted by SIAE.

Studio Turini carries out deposits at SIAE and at other institutions, in particular at the Copyright Office of the United States of America.

The most suitable deposit is chosen depending on the type of work. The deposit has probatory nature, that means that it is useful to provide evidence of the ownership and of the existence of the work at a precise date, which corresponds to the date in which it has been done.

The main types of deposit at SIAE are for:

  • Original works
  • Software (published software): if the software is unpublished, it can be deposited as an original work.

Contact Us

    We are equipped with a specialized software for the management of patents, design, trademark, copyright's portfolios" Battista Software Project" - Studio Brevetti Turini s.r.l. Project co-financed under Tuscany POR FESR 2014-2020

    PORCreO Regione Toscana