Leading Italian Film Producer Calls For $16 Billion Lawsuit Against Italian State For Alleged Inaction Against Piracy

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Last year we wrote about EMI suing the Irish government for having the temerity not to pass a SOPA-Like censorship law. That truly extraordinary sense of entitlement seemed to be a one-off, but The Hollywood Reporter now brings us another (via @LifeinSicily):

Italian producer Aurelio De Laurentiis has proposed a €12.5 billion ($16 billion) class action lawsuit against the Italian state for lost revenue he says movie producers have sustained because the state has done too little to combat piracy.

The justification for that rather significant sum is the following:

“The problem of piracy is very important, and I say we should ask for €12.5 billion in order to obtain at least €2.5 billion [$3.2 billion], the amount we lose each year because of piracy,” De Laurentiis said.

There was no explanation of where that €2.5 billion figure came from. According to estimates quoted in Techdirt’s “The Sky is Rising 2“, gross box office sales for the Italian film industry were €700 million in 2011, so it seems highly unlikely that it is “losing” €2.5 billion each year. It may be significant that De Laurentiis is part of a dynasty of famous Italian film producers who can be justifiably proud of helping to create some of the greatest masterpieces of 20th-century Italian cinema. Perhaps he is still hankering for those good old days when people flocked to see the latest productions from his father and uncle.

But that was then, this is now: the Internet is having a massively disruptive effect on the film industry, just as it is on many others. That doesn’t give film producers any entitlement to handouts from the Italian state for sales they claim they might have made. And notice, too, that De Laurentiis is calling for compensation for allegedly lost sales, not lost profits, which might have been minimal.

It’s sad that so many in the copyright world apply their creativity to thinking up reasons why they should be protected by governments from the massive changes underway throughout the world, rather than applying that creativity to coming up with new ways of making money. They could do worse than listen to Riccardo Tozzi, president of Italy’s audiovisual association, who was the co-host with De Laurentiis of the film industry symposium where the latter made his call for legal action:

Tozzi suggested a different tact: making it easier for people to legally download films, for a fee. “We should balance the threat of illegal downloads with a legal supply of films,” he said. “It can be too difficult to download films legally, so there’s no good alternative” to piracy.

Sounds easier than suing the Italian government….

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Comments on “Leading Italian Film Producer Calls For $16 Billion Lawsuit Against Italian State For Alleged Inaction Against Piracy”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Well, I’m suing the MAFIAA for hmmm $500k because I am entitled to that money since I’ve been offering them my time to watch their content (approx 8% of my lived hours times 20 dollars as an hourly wage). My eyeballs and my time are too valuable for them to throw their content my way without giving me compensation.

Ahem. Aside the obvious joke above the sense of entitlement is shocking.

Sounds easier than suing the Italian government….

It is easier but there is too much greed and lack of technological awareness to pursue that route.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘It can be too difficult to download films legally, so there’s no good alternative” to piracy. Sounds easier than suing the Italian government’

but nowhere near as profitable! yet again, we can thank the good ol’ US of A for this shit. the clause always added into these so-called Trade agreements that allow countries to be held accountable when companies get less income from something than they think they should. you can also thank the good ol’ USA music business for jumping in and suing a country to recoup it’s supposed losses. what absolute shit! the product is crap, no one wants it, so the industry sues the country that made less profit for the company! unbelievable! now i see that Voltage pictures are doing the same thing with another failed production as it did with The Hurt Locker. it appears that thanks to the ridiculous ways that Congress insist on molly-coddling the entertainment industries, that any absolute heap of crap that a studio puts to the ‘silver screen’ can have the losses recouped simply by saying that they lost a fortune through ‘piracy’. then, by suing the public, on accusation only remember, they can find that they make more money in court than they ever could have hopped for from sales or the box office. how disgraceful a system is that?

Anonymous Coward says:

Not such a smart idea, Italy could do something like pass a law then that says if you were ever victimized by piracy you are entitled to $0 of compensation, just the opposite of what they want.

And don’t think the Italian government wouldn’t pass laws just to blatantly screw someone over they don’t like even if it’s short sighted. Italy once had a ‘tax amnesty/forgiveness’ program for tax deadbeats, where you could pay back taxes at reduced interest and penalty rates. Then after it expired Italy changed the law to make the tax deadbeats, including the ones who paid up 100% of their overdue tax bill under the old law, owe them far more money they owed before, and went after the tax cheats who had paid up under the old law, citing their pay ups as evidence of their tax cheating.

Sure it punishes tax cheaters doing that, but it also makes any such ‘tax forgiveness’ program like that meaningless they offer in the future knowing that they could do that to you again.

ECA (profile) says:


considering the bookkeeping abilities of the Movie industry..
They are always loosing money, and there isnt ANY left to PAY investors..

I LOVE estimates that consider that EVERY human on the planet wants to Watch their movie..

IF these folks could get $1 from every person that watched their movies, do you think they would Shut up??

NEVER.. they would want $2

out_of_the_blue says:

They never add the fact that many people downloading content would not pay for it in the first place even if there was no download of it.

This could be because of many different things.
1. Lack of money.
2. Cheapskate.
3. Wanting to see it before blowing 20 dollars on a non refundable item.
4. General availability.
5. Unsynchronized release dates.
6. Unsynchronized format release dates.

I’m not saying they’re right so download away, but you cannot simply count every download as a lost sale.

That One Guy (profile) says:

I love the fact that they are treating this like a bout of haggling, intentionally throwing out a massive number in the hopes it will make the other, lower-but-still-insane number seem more acceptable.

Also seems like they provided the perfect counter argument to the italian government with their ‘…in order to obtain at least ?2.5 billion [$3.2 billion], the amount we lose each year because of piracy’ line, which the government can just counter with ‘Prove it’.

AzureSky (profile) says:

My move as the Italian govt would be to outlaw broadband or internet period and inform the public that the mafiaa corporations and their friends demanded it due to their greed and stupidity.

wonder if that would boost box office and bluray/dvd sales?

yes i know it sounds nuts but, force everybody back to 56k speeds at best, full blocking at worst would really get the public’s attention to the problem.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Another definitely hypocritical action from likely suspicious sources. EMI seems more like a pirate of citizens rights than an entertainment firm. Another good example of slash and burn antagonistic efforts? This type of lawsuit goes both ways though…

So where is the lawsuit due to the obvious piracy of individual freedoms? The trillions in damages due to outright legislative theft of Public Domain Rights? The billions in damages when Fair Use Rights are rendered nonexistent by indiscriminate lawsuits or untoward legislation? The untold cauterizing of culture when copymight has been criminalizing everyday normal life?

What industry responsibility is incurred when even healthy culture and society itself are victims of monopolistic intent? Where will the bill be sent when even technology and innovation suffer from when basic communications are cut off sabotaging collaborations/sources that are the driving force behind such efforts.

So where is the lawsuit directly paying people who share these works and directly producing new sales due to such public popularity? (several great examples exist. King of Thrones comes to mind.)

Thats right; Send the invoice/lawsuits/bill to EMI. (and don’t forget to dump copyright for something with better terms.)

If EMI shriveled and died a horrible free market death/bankruptcy as a firm who would care? In some minds there might be cheering but its still a sad fact that the average citizen is unaware of the criminal liabilities of everyday copyright law.

Sounds more like a publicity stunt. Considering the outrageous amounts asked for its likely more Hollywood accounting manipulation. If the anti-tobacco groups were unable to sue government for cigarettes then this will have no judicial merit either.

-wank, wank- (SFX for several, blood vessel popping, rants at once)

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

"Content" and its value

We all remember Newton – he is almost immortal. Einstein, Stradivarius, etc., etc.
I dimly remember De Laurentis, and I do remember (I think) he was involved in movies (CONTENT! CONTENT! This here be important, you peeples!). Soon, I (along with virtually everyone else, except for a few elderly teeny-boppers) will have forgotten “De who?”.
But CONTENT be imp… val… gud!

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