Article written by on-line media planner and tech blogger Jerry Houtman

Napster started it, and it has been going on ever since: the fight over online music sharing. Copyright issues are the core of this battle between the music industry and consumers, which recently took a turn for the unexpected. Ars Technica reported on the latest news on this matter, which came from Italy. What’s the story? The Italian government has unintentionally proved a considerable service to everyone who shares music through the Internet. The parliament has, as it happens, adopted a new law on the copyright, which permits Italians to spread and share music on-line, under the condition that they do this is for non-commercial aims and that it concerns music of lower quality. That might not sound as revolutionary as the headline suggests, but it most definitely is, for that second criterion is exactly where the Italian policy makers haven’t done their research all too well on.

20080203 bwb98bjkat4s7t96w9864t53kj Italy accidentally legalizes music sharingAccording to Andrea Monti, a lawyer specialized in copyright, ‘lower quality’ is a term that can be interpreted very widely. The conversion necessary for sharing makes every music file circulating on the web one of lower quality than the original recording. That permit Italians to distribute music on the Internet without any restrictions. Although the law limits such sharing for scientific or educational aims, Monti believes it will make prosecuting a lot harder. Because let’s be honest: how many of us truly follow these particular rules?

Whereas the French policy makers tried to tackle illegal file sharing with a ban on Internet access, their Italian colleagues have made themselves the laughing stock of Europe by committing an enormous legal blunder. The law cannot be withdrawn or reconsidered, since it has already been approved of and only publication in the Official Journal keeps it from being official. The Italian government thus has to come up with a new law and make it pass through both Houses of Parliament again. It is almost too good to be true, and a small victory for consumers. If only I’d live in Italy.