Italy updates rights of authors


ROME -- Italy's decree governing the rights of authors was updated for the first time in 66 years Wednesday, creating more transparency in how writers are compensated but allowing for more time before payment for acquiring rights to a work is made.

The old decree dated to 1942 -- so long ago it was called a "Royal Decree" because Italy was still four years away from becoming a republic -- and it lacked many modern conveniences. For example, the new decree from Italian president Giorgio Napolitano allows terms of a writer's contract to be finalized by telephone or online. Previously, it had to be done by post.

The most important changes allow for the Italian Society of Authors and Editors, or SIAE, to circulate a list of written works sold each quarter along with the requirement that royalties be paid within 60 days from when the document is circulated. Previously, there was no deadline for royalty payments and no transparency regarding which rights were sold.

But the amount of time for payment to be made for acquiring rights to a work was extended, to 90 days from 15 days under the old rules.

The new changes, which go into effect immediately, cover most kinds of written works sold to published or performed, including rights to screenplays for films or TV programs. It does not cover work produced for periodicals.