Only a journalist can run a website in Italy?

On May, 8 2008 the Court of Modica (Sicily) ruled that a website identified by a “heading” and publishing contents on a periodic basis is subjected to the regulation of newspapers or magazines and – in general – or in  press.

The result is that an anti-mafia webmaster has been indicted for committing the crime of “clandestine publication” because he didn’t request the Tribunal’s authorisation to publish his site www.accadeinsicilia.net.

The “Catch 22” comes because to obtain this authorisation, this webmaster should have been a journalist, member of the national journalist association or the permit wouldn’t be granted. Then, nobody but a journalist can run a website, because nobody but a journalist can obtain the Court registration.

The legal paradox is a consequence of the fact that, before the internet came, publisihing a newspaper meant investing huge money in equipment, people, distribution etc. Thus it was easy for  “power” to control the press with a series of adminstrative burdens. Now, with the free availability of content management system like WordPress, and the low cost of internet-based services,  publishing a magazine is absolutely affordable. So the “power” – namely, Law 62/01 – tried in a very messy way to reassert its control over the information flow.

It is simply a nonsense affirm that since a website has a “heading” and publishes daily information, then it is a newspaper. Following this line of reasoning, it is enough – to not infringe the law – to “restrain” from publishing on due dates… Killing free speech starts from here.

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