Autistici wins case over railroad parody site

By EDRi · September 22, 2004

The Italian hostingprovider Austici does not have to remove a satirical website it hosts with a parody on the website of the Italian railroad company Trenitalia. On 14 September 2004 the court of Milan rejected a request from Trenitalia to remove the ‘offending content’ and impose a fine on the provider. The court decided that the parody fell under the protection of the constitutional right on freedom of expression granted in Article 21, and decided Trenitalia had to reimburse the legal costs of 5.100 euro.

Trenitalia could opt for a (much longer and more expensive) civil case against Autistici, but given the clear motivation from the court on the right to create satire, it seems unlikely such an appeal will yield any results.

The case started half July with a letter from Trenitalia to announcing the court case. Trenitalia demanded the provider should immediately remove the site, publish an advertisement in 2 national newspapers about the removal of the site and do not use any metatags referring to trenitalia. On top of that, the railroad lawyers demanded refunding of moral and actual damages to the company.

After a first hearing on 3 August 2004 the judge ordered to comply with all these demands, including the obligation to invest aprox. 20.000 euro in publication of advertisements in the 2 national newspapers. Fortunately, the court of Milan, after having heard the defense of autistici on 7 September 2004 decided to overrule the preliminary proceeding, and acquit the provider from all charges.

Autistici file on Trenitalia case

Preliminary judgement (in English, 03.08.2004)

Final judgement (in Italian, dated 07.09.2004)

Parody website