Peppermint, copyright and personal data

A side issue arising from the Peppermint affaire is the relationship between criminal and civil trials rule of evidence.

In a criminal investigation, access to ISP owned traffic data and log files is possible only with a public prosecutor search and seize warrant. One seized, these information are strictly confidential and cannot disclosed – even to the defense counsel – before the trial starts.

The very same data – as the Peppermint affaire shows – can indeed be obtained by a private entity alleging a civivl – not criminal, then – copyright infringement, just asking the civil court to force an ISP to disclose information.

This is a paradox of the Italian legal system, since criminal action is supposed to be the only reason to allow the breach of constitutional rights, while the a civil case only gives the court limited powers. This common-sense rule has been subverted when talking about copyright. Is it fair or acceptable?

An update on the Peppermint affaire

As I mentioned in a previous post, Peppermint Records GmBH a German record label started a legal action against about 3.000 Italian internet users “accused” of illegally sharing its copyrighted material – namely, a song. The label was able to obtain a (questionable) court order to force a major Italian Telco to disclose the identity of the customers whose ADSL line was – allegedly – used to commit that “devious crime”.

Next step has been a flood of letters from an Italian law firm located in Bolzano (a place with a strong german-speaking minority – or, better, majority) asking, on behalf of Peppermint Record – for a compensation of 330,00 Euros, as sine qua to drop the legal action.

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European Union, Copyright Lobbies and Italian ISP’s. The Big Brawl.

On Feb. 9, 2007 the Civil Court of Rome, under the Italian enforcement of the EU 2004/48 directive, issued a preliminary ruling (technically speaking, in Italian, “ordinanza cautelare”) ordering Telecom Italia to disclose the identity of about 3.000 people allegedly committing the “infamous” crime of exchanging copyrighted material through P2P network. The Court order was “backed” by a statement from the plaintiff – a German based recording label – claiming that a private cyber-investigation revealed that Telecom Italia’s users were involved in such illegal behaviour.

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Download for free. The Italian way.

A recent Italian Suprem Court (Corte di cassazione) decision raised scandal among the international observers as it is supposed to legalise copyright infringement when done with no intent of getting money (in Italian: “scopo di lucro”).

As ALCEI noted in its press-release, Italian courts have not ruled in favour of making not-for-profit file-sharing legal.