FW: Italy reportedly requires news sites to register, pay fees

chiari mario chiari.hm a FLASHNET.IT
Mar 24 Apr 2001 17:20:36 CEST


Christian, thanks for your interest. Excuse myself for this late reply.
Please, see below ps for comments to the politechbot's article.
Please, forward this mail to whoever might be interested.

Isoc.it had a press release on the issue (in italian, see at
http://www.isoc.it). We agree that this is a unfortunate piece of
regulation and are asking to modify it.

Let me tell you something more on fact and whereabouts.

There are at least two sides of the issue: whether or not italian
regulation of the press are good even for the traditional (paper) press,
and whether or not they should be extended to Internet (better: to press
like service on the Internet).

Italian press regulation are such that membership to a unique 'Ordine dei
Giornalisti' is required in order to declare oneself a (professional)
journalist. So called editorial companies, i.e., companies which are in the
business  to publish either a newspaper or a magazine, are (with exception)
essentially required to hire professional journalists. Note the a company,
if it is a 'editorial' one, enjoys a variety of financial/fiscal benefits.

Membership to the 'Ordine', i.e. the status of journalist, is granted
essentially by its members, if the candidate member pass an  official and
formal examination (This is a State examination, if this means anything in
the UK. Really, the "ordine" is like a jouralist Bar). It helps to be
already hired as a 'young journalist'. Related regulation on salaries,
working relationship and so on are a fundamental part of this legal

Most professional journalist -and their trade unions- are in favor of the
present situation, as a decent way to protect their profession, especially
from 'greedy' editors.  Since the 'Ordine' has the powers, according to the
law, to enforce a code of basic principles of correctness (eg, on
reliability of sources), the present framework is often defended as a
working one, both  to assure  some decent, responsable journalism and to
shield journalists from external pressure.

On the other hand, a variety of people accuse this entire legal framework
to have created a closed corporation which is an obstacle to the freedon of
speech in our country.

The entire question has been an ongoing dicussion in our country as long as
I can remember.

With respect to the Internet, the issue arose because a number of editorial
companies started on-line versions of their newspapers without being very
carefull, to say the least, to extend 'press regulation' (and related
regulations on salaries and working conditions) on the new setting.

Indeed, high ranking government official are claiming that the new
definition of 'press' is intended to regulate these cases and only these

However, this minimalist interpretation is not supported by a careful
reading of the law.

As a way out, somebody is proposing to have different regulations for
professional journalism (off- and on-line) and 'spontaneous' (and most
likely not-for-profit) journalism. I am not sure that that could be
implemented in any clear cut way.

Hope this clarifies a little.
Comments welcome.
best wishes

mario (chiari)
CEO, SocietÓ Internet (Italy Chapter ISOC)

ps This mail doesn't state an official position of the chapter.

pps comments to politechbot's article follows

At 10.28 15/04/01 +0100, you wrote:
>This hit the ISTF list. Can you comment?
>all the best
>Christian de Larrinaga
>ISOC England
>-----Original Message-----
>From: WWWhatsup [mailto:joly a dti.net]
>Sent: 12 April 2001 10:03
>To: ISTF Discussion
>Subject: FC: Italy reportedly requires news sites to register, pay fees
>> the new law recently
>> approved in Italy to extend the rules for the press and
>> periodical press to web sites and electronic press.

Not exactly. A recent omnibus law on the press has a one line definition of
'press' which seems to imply that somebody who 'publish' (pubblica e
diffonde) news (informazioni) periodically, even if only 'eletronically',
has to comply with italian 'press' (stampa) regulation.

It is unclear whether this applies to web sites. As far as we may
understand at this point, it shouldn't apply to web sites which cointain
personal opinion or narrative, essays of any kind, a company info, or any
other not 'news' like kind of stuff.

>> The new law states that EVERY [NO, see above] web site has to be
>> considered as a press product, and it has to print the name
>> of the publisher (or the editor) and the city where it is
>> published (whatever this could mean).
>> If the site includes news or [NO, read: and] is updated periodically, which
>> would be the case of a webzine or of a site with a news
>> section [yes, these could fall within the new regulation] >>, it falls
under these following laws valid for
>> newspapers and periodical press:
>> 1) it has to declare a responsible managing editor, that has
>> to be enlisted in the professional Order of Journalists [correct!] 2) it
>> to pay a tax (of about 200$) [I am not sure] 3) it has to be registered
in the
>> lists of the tribunal of the city where it is published. [correct,
although a minor issue]
>> the entire text of the law (sorry, it's in
>> Italian):
>> http://www.interlex.it/testi/l01_62.htm

The larger portion of the law is about financial benefits for 'editorial
companies'. To the present discussion, only the first article (definition
of 'press') is relevant.

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