Platform responsibility? Get the backstory - check my book The Closing of the Net - only £15.99!

For 15 years the United States has been pressing the Italian government for tougher IPR enforcement measures. Eye-opening  revelations  in a new batch of leaked US diplomatic cables from Wikileaks describe how the American government, via its embassy in Rome, attempted to manipulate Italian domestic policy for intellectual property and copyright. Not only did they work with the Italian copyright industries, but their political tentacles even stetched into  the judicial system .


 A cable from the US Rome Embassy in 2009,  seen by, expresses disappointment with IPR  and copyright enforcement in Italy. On that basis, the Embassy organised conferences, dinners and seminars  to which they invited Italian policy-makers and prominent public figures. Regular meetings were held with the local content industry representatives, with the specific aim of getting them to lobby their government for the changes in Italian copyright law required by the US.

 As an economic threat, Italy was placed on the US government’s Special 301 list.

 Especially invidious is a suggestion by the cable writer that the Embassy tried to educate and influence  Italian magistrates in respect of copyright and IPR enforcement cases . The writer implies that the judges and magistrates  were too soft on copyright matters, and  not inclined to issue tough sentences for copyright infringement (although they seem to have been more “satisfactory” when dealing with trade mark infringement”). 

The cable states that   judges ‘regard IPR violations (especially copyright violations) as petty offences’ and that the magistrates ‘are the weak link in combatting IPR theft in Italy’. It would seem that this is the reason for a statement at the end of the cable that the US Embassy was organising “seminars designed to sensitize the magistracy to IPR issues”.




- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Overview of IPR in Italy

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

¶2. (U) Italy has adequate IPR laws in place, but relatively

few IPR cases are brought to trial. Judges still regard IPR

violations (particularly copyright violations) as petty

offenses, and the magistracy can be said to be the weak link

in combating IPR theft in Italy. The Italian Finance Police

(GDF) and Italy's Customs police (Dogana) are active and

skilled investigators, but they are frustrated by the fact

that few cases reach final sentencing. Historically there

has been a reluctance by judicial officials to impose

deterrent penalties. A new bill already approved by the

Chamber of Deputies and expected to be approved soon by the

Senate will increase penalties for a range of crimes,

including counterfeiting and piracy. While some judges still

seem reluctant to view IP infringement as a serious crime,

the GOI has made IP instruction part of the regular training

that all judges must receive, and some high ranking members

of the judiciary publicly supported the view that IPR crimes

should be treated seriously.


Mission Efforts to Promote IPR Protection


¶17. (U)

 Over the last 15 or so years the Embassy and

Consulates have organized successful IPR promotion efforts

ranging from roundtables with key GOI figures, public

speeches by the ambassador and others, to awards for

successful enforcement action and seminars designed to

sensitize the magistracy to IPR issues. These programs have

effectively raised the profile of IPR with GOI officials, as

evidenced by the seriousness with which IPR and the Special

301 list are now viewed. In order to ensure that IPR

protection in Italy is driven by Italians, who are best

equipped to orchestrate successful IP action in their own

country, the Mission is pushing IP industries in Italy to

take the lead in programming events and in letting their

concerns be known to officials. Officers at the Embassy and

Consulates continue to meet regularly with government

officials to push for policy changes that will improve IPR

protection, as well as with members of investigative services

to monitor IPR protection in Italy and to offer consultation.

In addition the Embassy and Consulates continue to work with

industry contacts to support them in their IPR promotion

efforts. Mission officials also raise awareness of the

problems through both public and private comments.



PLEASE CITE AS: Monica Horten (2011)  The Italian job – USG sensitised the magistrates 6 September 2011 . This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License for  non-commercial purposes, with the author attributed.




States v the 'Net? 

Read The Closing of the Net, by me, Monica Horten.

"original and valuable"  Times higher Education

" essential read for anyone interested in understanding the forces at play behind the web."

Find out more about the book here  The Closing of the Net


FROM £15.99

Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

Don't miss Iptegrity!  RSS/ Bookmark is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is a policy analyst specialising in Internet governance & European policy, including platform accountability. She is a published author & Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet Freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and the Caucasus. In a voluntary capacity, she has led UK citizen delegations to the European Parliament. She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012.

Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy (and related issues on Brexit). Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

Contact  me to use  iptegrity content for commercial purposes