iMussolini Storms Italian iTunes Store (No More) UPDATE

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UPDATE: iMussolini Developer Luigi Marino told Cult of Mac that he discovered the lawsuit for copyright infringement by reading our story yesterday. Marino contacted the Italian state film archives, Istituto Luce, for clarifications about the video material he used from Mussolini’s speeches and they asked him to remove the app from the store to avoid a legal battle. Marino tells us he requested to pull the app and expects it to be gone from the iTunes store by 1 p.m. (CET).

UPDATE 2: iMussolini is gone. The competing Mussolini app — Mussolini’s historical speeches– — is, however, still available.

An iPhone app of Benito Mussolini’s speeches is the second-highest paid app in the Italian iTunes store a week after launching despite criticism for giving voice to Il Duce’s diehard fans and claims over copyright violations.

iMussolini, a mobile compendium of fascism, features 100 complete speeches,  plus 20 audio and video clips for €0.79 (it’s also available in the US iTunes store for $0.99, in Italian only) — without any kind of political commentary.

At about 1,000 downloads a day, iMussolini is more popular in Italy than Shazam and games like Ice Age and Dracula: the Path of the Dragon.

Comments by readers on iPhoneitalia, which broke the story, included enough pro-Mussolini sentiment  “Duce! Duce! Duce!”  and slogans (“Boia chi molla!”) to prompt complaints to the iTunes store that the app violates Italy’s 1952 Scelba law, which formally abolished fascism. The New York-based American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants  also slammed Apple over the app.

Today, the Italian state film archives, Istituto Luce, announced it will sue the developer for using archival clips and asked Apple to remove the application. At this writing, the app is still available.

iMussolini is the handiwork of 25-year-old Luigi Marino, who picked up an iPhone for the first time about six months ago and made the app in his spare time.

Cult of Mac spoke to Marino about why iMussolini is an excercise in free enterprise, getting the app approved and why his next app may feature Gandhi.

CoM: How did you start programming for iPhones?

Luigi Marino: I’ve been programming Java and C++ since high school, in July 2009 I bought my first iPhone and  in November 2009 in my first MacBook.  Programming for it is more of a passion than anything else. (NDR: Marino owns and runs an unrelated company).   In my free time, I also blog for an iPhone website called dev app.

CoM: Where did you get the idea for the iMussolini app?

LM: The idea came about by chance, the iTunes store already had a similar app, but the commenters complained that there wasn’t much content, it was awkward to read etc…
So I decided to make one with more content, especially audio and video.

CoM: Where did you get the material?

LM: Most of the material used was found on the Internet, it’s amazing the stuff  you can find nowadays.
Apple accepted the app without any problems; one of their strengths is objectivity. It was approved in the usual time frame. (About 10 days). The application does not use any illegal content, so Apple could not help but approve it.

CoM: What’s next?

LM: I’m working on another version with more audio and video plus a page dedicated to fascist works (architecture, laws, etc…) and might include a new section of fascist slogans.

And to avoid more controversy, though, my next app may be a similar one about Gandhi.

CoM: How do you answer critics who say that you’re inciting hatred?

LM: It’s a delicate page in our history that should never be forgotten, the app does not intend to encourage violence in any way.