Web site protection in Italy is ruled by the Copyright Act, as it is a specific field of application of the author’s right.
The web site can be defined as a “virtual” place inside which the most varied contents can be inserted, according to the type of relation the owner wants to establish with the users. There are informative sites, mainly containing texts, figurative sites, where photographs are also presented, commercial sites, or any other kind. The author of the web site benefits from the protection provided by the copyright Act and it covers every single part that of the site, either a text, an image, a music, a film or a photo, as the art. 1 states, “Intellectual works having a creative character (…) whatever their way or form of expression, are protected by this law”.
The site as an author’s work
In contrast, many problems have arisen relating to the possibility of the site as a single independent work, bearing a higher and different creative character, in respect to the one obtained with the mere sum of the various components. Even though there isn’t yet a common option on this matter, it can be confirmed that, in certain conditions, the faithful imitation of a web page by a competitor may represent a hypothetical unfair competition, whilst the site can be protected in its entirety as a structure, on condition that the law requirements for this exist. Amongst the rare rulings on this subject, it is useful to remember the one of Bari’s Court of Law in date 21.06.1998, where it was decided that a data transmission work is deserving of protection if the access process, the information types and the consultation manners are originals and the result of a creative and intellectual activity.
It is important to remember that what is protected is not the idea itself of the creation of a certain site with a definite content, but the concrete way it has been realized.