The Court of Rome, by order of 15 October 2014, shows its position on a case of plagiarism of a not typified works of art, namely the format, that is the basic plan for the arrangement of a specified production.
The jurisprudence recognizes the format as a work of art protectable with copyright, provided that it has the minimal creativity required for the access to the copyright protection.
In the present case the applicant was an association that had created a festival of short films characterized by a well-defined format, consisting of the following elements:
- a specific theme (the value of diversity)
- the location (Rome)
- the yearly structure (three days, two of them of screenings and awards, one of gala)
- two juries (one technical and one mixed)
- a series of different awards.
The applicant had applied to the Court for an emergency protection against an association which organized a festival with the same format, namely with the same theme and the same location, two juries and very similar awards.
It was, therefore, a slavish imitation, which is the kind of imitation for which it is possible to act with the protection afforded by copyright, while copyright does not extend to creative reworkings, namely to the “similar ideas which have an element of essential distinction which is the result of the creativity of the author”.
The Court accepted the appeal and confirmed the protectable of the format which, however,
“must have a kind of completeness, namely it cannot consist of a basic idea so much vague that must be continuously developed in order to be realized. This must be a scheme feasible in itself, without substantial modifications”.
The Court also states that
“copyright is protected regardless of the potential of confusion that imitation may have caused. It is not a distinctive sign, therefore its violation is relevant without the necessity of a confusion in the public between the original and its emulation”.