By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Italy’s Snap General Election is on September 25As many Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, one of the strengths of the Italian publishing industry—particularly in its ability to draw support from Rome during the worst of the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic—has been Italy’s Confindustria Cultura Italia (ICC), the cultural industry federation.
It’s an umbrella association that which includes the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) as well as the powerful Italian cinema and audiovisual associations (ANICA, APA, UNIVIDEO), along with the heritage-promotional agency AICC. All told, it represents more than 150,000 companies and at least 5.4 million workers. The Confindustria celebrated its 110th anniversary in February 2020, just as the pandemic was making itself felt.
Within the last week, the Confindustria has set out four priorities for the cultural content industry in Italy. While this kind of coordinated trade action is hardly unusual in many countries, Italy’s creative industries lie unusually close to one of that country’s greatest economic engines—tourism, art, history, and national image. That means that the next legislative session—to be decided in Sunday’s (September 25) snap general election—is likely to listen, as it has done during the pandemic era.
In describing its interests, the creative collective has identified four topical areas in which to operate:
- Enhancement of the creative and cultural sector
- Stabilization of system regulations and laws
- Support for cultural consumption
- The fight against piracy and the protection of copyright
Cipolletta: Sector Laws for Individual Areas of Culture
An experienced government operative, Ricardo Franco Levi, president of the Italian publishers’ association and vice-president of the Federation of European Publishers, is an asset in shaping and communicating the value of the Confindustria Cultura’s various elements.
“The world of culture, understood as the production of books, film and audiovisual content, music, and services to museums and exhibitions,” his offices in Milan write, “generates an added value of almost €16 billion euros (US$15.7 billion) with more than 200,000 employees.”
Innocenzo Cipolletta, president of the Confindustria, says that the cultural sector’s “ability to generate wealth, jobs, and also innovation for the economy, its social impact on the life of Italians and the image of Italy abroad, gives it an important role in the development and growth of the country .
“It’s necessary to become more and more aware of this, investing in it and enhancing it with specific industrial policies that should be at the center of political agendas and programs.”
In short, the collective cultural core is gearing up to lobby for increased positioning and support from the new government that’s to replace the Parliament dissolved in July as Mario Draghi resigned as prime minister. All 400 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and all 200 elective seats in the Roman Senate are in play. The cultural industries consortium would like to see its central role in the country’s economy and character more fully recognized by the new government.
Cipolletta says, “The last two years of policies for cultural industries have inevitably been devoted to addressing the consequences of the pandemic on the sector.
“The great effort of the institutions has led to the implementation of a series of intervention tools aimed, above all, at countering the emergency and with a fragmented approach. At the same time, however, the awareness of having an organic and systemic vision has matured.” This is, he says, “the need to carry out structural reforms that take the opportunity of the crisis to stabilize, integrate, and innovate the legal framework of the sector, so that companies can define safe and medium- to long-term investment plans.
“But, as in other industrial sectors, that of culture has within it many diversified sectors, which deserve specific attention. Hence, it would be appropriate to enact sector laws for all individual areas of culture , as has already been done in some cases. Books, music, and museum services are sectors that deserve to have legislation capable of promoting their growth.”
Copyright: ‘The Essential Prerequisite’
Culture, Cipolletta says in his statement for the sector, “is an essential asset for society with its educational, training, and recreational value. Its circulation and use must therefore be stimulated and facilitated through policies to support cultural consumption, for example, by giving continuity to measures such as the 18App, extending the teachers’ card also to the purchase of musical and audiovisual products in their physical and digital versions and developing other similar support tools for other weaker categories, provide for the introduction of a regime of deductibility of cultural expenses and finally promote a subsidized VAT regime for all cultural products.”
Cipolletta concludes the policy outline he and his leadership colleagues in the Confindustria are articulating with an appeal to the essential priority of copyright protection.
“The cultural content industry is based on copyright, he says, which represents the essential prerequisite for the remuneration of those who work in this industrial sector, just as patents protect creativity in the industrial sector. Copyright therefore must be defended and valued.
“Piracy still represents a great threat to the sector for which effective countermeasures are necessary to safeguard the future of today’s and tomorrow’s operators.
“What we’re asking for is attention to the world of culture by virtue of the role it plays for the economic and social growth of the country. These proposals are not only for the sector but also for the future of the new generations and, in general, of our country.”
More from Publishing Perspectives on the Italian market is here, more from us on bookselling is here, more on digital publishing is here, more on copyright issues is here, and more on book piracy is here.
More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.