The Italian Almanac

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Mussolini on Iphone

Copywrighted Duce

Italy's state-owned film company said it would file suit over a top-selling Apple iPhone application that plays film clips and speeches by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Cinecitta' Luce, which manages the historic Italian studio's film archive, alleged the material on the user-made mobile phone application had been copied off a DVD without permission for sale on Apple's online store ''with flagrant disregard for international copyright laws''.

iMussolini, a ''greatest hits'' compilation of over a 100 audio and film clips starring il Duce, was taken off the iTunes store on Wednesday amid calls of outrage from Jewish groups and iPhone users. But a Cinecitta' Luce spokesman said it was too little too late, and that the studio was going to court. ''That material is the exclusive property of Cinecitta' Luce, whose media archives constitute its one and only source of revenue,'' said Luciano Sovena. ''It also happens to represent this country's memories, which here have been plucked out of context and put up for sale''.

Selling for 1.50 euros, iMussolini was the Italian Apple store's top-selling mobile phone application, totalling over 60,000 downloads by the time it was removed. The several hours worth of recorded speeches and video were compiled by a 25-year-old amateur software developer from Naples, Luigi Marino, who denied that they were pirated. ''All of those files are available for free on the internet,'' said Marino. ''I didn't do anything but put them together''.

Marino added that he was ''surprised'' by controversy surrounding the application, which he hadn't meant to exalt the Italian strongman. ''I was really just trying to make a sort of documentary about a very delicate time in our history,'' he explained.

As anger welled over iMussolini last week, an unidentified Apple spokesman interviewed by Germany daily Deutschland Financial Times confessed disbelief that the application had been cleared for sale in the first place.But Marino said that he had no problem gaining approval for his application, which went on sale ten days after he submitted it in mid-January.