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Artist, authors take on industry

BY LUIS C. SCHMIDT
PARTNER
IP WORLD ON LINE, COPYRIGHT WORLD, APRIL 2003
The Mexican Congress is discussing a bill that proposes certain amendments to the Copyright Law of 1996. In essence, what the bill proposes is the implementation of a number of provisions granting additional rights to authors and holders of neighboring rights such as artists and phonogram producers. Thus, among other aspects, the Copyright Law would be changed to reflect a compensation right for private copying of works of authorship. The electronics industry has strongly opposed to the measure, as it would be the manufacturers and vendors of equipment and media for reproducing copyrightable subject matter, who wouId bear the obligation to cover the compensation.
The reform contemplates a “droit de suite” aimed at protecting authors of works of fine arts as well as creations of similar nature, with the exception of works of applied arts. A system would be established including procedures to fix compensations, transmitting rights “mortis causa” and imposing obligations upon brokers and art galleries to inform authors or their representatives about any sales made of works of their authorship so that they get the right compensation.
One change that has also become the subject of discussion is the increase of the patrimonial right term of life plus 75 years to life plus 100 years. And once the term expires, the Government would have the power to collect fees from the use of works, which are no longer protected. Older statutes like the Copyright Law of 1956 followed a similar system, abolished during the 1980s as being unfair and inapplicable. The bill would also suggest a provision on restoration of works that fell into the public domain for lack of compliance with formalities in conformance with the Civil Codes of 1884 and 1932.
The amendment has been strongly supported by authors and coIlecting societies but has been rejected by the industry. Many would hope that Congress fully meditates on the implications of the amendment, not only in terms of what it would mean for the users of works, but for society in general. The challenge for legislators is thus manifest. It will be interesting to see what happens in the end.