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Italian writers threaten to strike

Union says conditions are worse than U.S.

Prompted by their overseas WGA colleagues, Italy’s screenwriters are threatening strike action over new media residuals.

TV scribe Andrea Purgatori, who is the screenwriters’ rep in Italo artistic copyright association SIAE, is sounding a call to action, lamenting a lack of royalties pertaining to Italian film and TV drama product sold for Web and mobile phone use.

Purgatori said SIAE has taken legal action against mobile phone operators Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Wind and Hutchinson 3G, warning them to stop using movies and TV dramas as content unless they are prepared to pay royalties to writers.

“We’ve been talking a lot about it, and we will strike if we don’t get adequate compensation,” Purgatori said in an interview on Friday with weekly L’Espresso.

Meanwhile, SIAE is negotiating residuals for writers with News Corp.-owned paybox Sky Italia, which in past months has sold off mobile phone and Web rights for local product to several Italian telcos.

SIAE has given Sky Italia a Dec. 31 deadline to reach an agreement. After that , SIAE said it would consider illegal all further use of film and drama sold by Sky Italia for new media.

The WGA strike is backed by many scribes, including writer/helmer Fausto Brizzi, whose teen romancers “Night Before Exams” and “Night Before Exams — Today” are among the country’s biggest recent hits.

“We certainly work in much worse conditions than our U.S. colleagues who are protesting; we would be happy with the type of contract and rights protection they have,” said Brizzi.

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