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Italy approves 'jail for P2P users' law

Download songs and spend up to three years in prison

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Italy has made transferring content via the Internet without the permission of the copyright holder a criminal offence

The Italian parliament yesterday voted in favour of imposing jail sentences of up to three years on anyone caught uploading or downloading unauthorised copyright material to and from the Net.

The move comes in direct response to the rise of P2P services such as Kazaa and Gnutella, and was prompted by the country's film industry.

Until now, Italy's copyright laws, which date back to 1941, have focused on protecting copyright holders from those who seek to profit financially from the unauthorised duplication of content. The new law extends that to anyone who performs such an act, whether for financial gain or not.

In short, by sharing music for free, Italian P2Pers risk punishment almost as severe as if they had attempted to sell pirate CDs.

Those found guilty of the unauthorised distribution of copyright material now face a fine of between €154 and €1032 ($185-1240), a jail sentence of between six months and three years, the confiscation of their hardware and software, and the revelation of their misdeeds in Italy's two national newspapers, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera.

The law was passed by the Italian Senate despite the abstention of the Lista Prodi party and no votes from the Greens and Italian Communists. "The law is mistaken in method and merit," Green senator Fiorello Cortiana told La Repubblica today.

However, both opposition parties gained the Senate's agreement to re-consider the penalties the law imposes on violators. ®

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