Italy: Online editors are not liable as the printed press

By EDRi · October 6, 2010

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Deutsch: [Italien: Online-Herausgeber unterliegen nicht den gleichen Haftungsbestimmungen wie Printmedien |]

The Italian Court of Cassation ruled in a decision taken on16 July 2010 and
published on 1 October 2010 that online editors are not directly liable for
the content published on their websites. In this case, it was considered
that art.57 of the Italian Criminal Code which requires control of newspaper
editors over the published content covers exclusively the hard copy written

The ruling overturned a previous decision of the Appeal Court of Milan
having convicted the editor of Merate Online portal for not having checked
the content of a letter that proved defamatory for Justice Minister Roberto

The Court of Cassation stated that Article 57 “refers specifically to
information disseminated through the ‘press’. The letter of the law is
unequivocal and that conclusion also bears a historical interpretation of
the rule.”

Law 47 from 1948 defines the ‘press’ as “any typographical or other
reproductions obtained by mechanical or physical-chemical way of
publication”. In the court’s opinion, a web publication does not fall into
the definition of the 1948 law and hence is not covered by art.57 of the
Criminal Law.

The ruling also relied on decree 70/2003 which explicitly rules out the
online service’s responsibility for the content of their users in case they
are unaware of the illegal character of the respective content.

The director of a web newspaper is not liable for failing control (only in
Italian, 1.10.2010)

Cassation: The Online Editor is not “responsible” (only in Italian,

Cassation Court – Decision no. 35511 (only in Italian, 16.07.2010)