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Early Italian copyright law in regard to literature were framed not really for the protection of authors but for the purpose of inducing printers, who were also publishers, to undertake certain literary enterprises which were believed to be important to the community. Italian copyright law is based strongly on authors' rights. Exceptions to authors' exclusive rights are limited — there is no provision equivalent to fair use or fair dealing — and are generally interpreted restrictively by the courts. - Sica, Salvatore; D'Antonio, Virgilio (2010).
"The Balance of Copyright in Italian National Law." The Republic of Venice and other Popes granted to certain printers the exclusuve privilege of printing for specific terms, generally 14 years, editions of classic authors; to encourage literary ventures for the benefit of the community. Provisions related to Italian copyright law are found in Law no. 633 of 22 April 1941. Certain fundamental provisions are also found in the Italian Civil Code of 1942, Arts. 2575–2583. Copyright law in Italy has not changed much since the first enactment of these provisions.
The subject matter owed protection is provided for (identically) in both the Civil Code (art. 2575) and Law no. 633 (Art. 1: "The object of the author's right is the work of intellect of creative character that belongs to the sciences, literature, music, figurative art, architecture, theatre, and cinematography, no matter the style or form of expression."
Italian law does not require any copyright formalities such as registration or deposit for copyright to subsist. The Civil Code (Art. 2576) and Law no. 633 (Art. 6) provide that the rights are first acquired upon creation of the work as a particular expression of the intellectual effort.
Art. 12 does not limit the manners in which economic rights may be exploited but provides examples. The author has the exclusive right to publish the work, and to use the work in any shape or form, original or derivative (within limits fixed by the law) and in particular certain exclusive rights such as reproduction in any manner or form by any process (Art. 13), public performance (Art. 15), and communication by wire, wireless, or Internet (Art. 16).