Authors gain controversial royalties rights under new bill

BY LUIS C. SCHMIDT
PARTNER
WORLD COPYRIGHT LAW REPORT, OCTOBER 2004
The Mexican Congress has passed a bill amending the Copyright Act 1996 in order to grant additional rights to authors and holders of neighbouring rights (eg, artists and record producers). Among other things, the bill:
  • entitles authors and artists to claim royalties for the secondary use of their copyright works. They will be able to claim for any public use or performance of their works, regardless of whether they hold the corresponding rights. This measure has been strongly criticized for extending property rights to situations where ownership no longer exists, contrary to the Constitution and the rule of law;
  • provides for a resale royalty, aimed at protecting the creators of works of fine art are similar creations. Brokers and galleries will be required to inform artist or their representatives about any sales of their works so that they can obtain the correct compensation; and
  • increase the copyright term to the life of the author plus 100 years – an increase of years. Once this term has expired, the government has the power to collect fees in relation to the use of works that are no longer protected.
The original draft of the bill also included a right of remuneration for authors when private copying occurs. Members of the electronics industry strongly opposed this measure because they, as manufacturers and vendors or reproduction equipment, would have been obliged to pay. The proposal was dropped from the bill as there is already an exception that allows people to make a copy of a work for private purpose without having to compensate the right holder. It would have been unfair to require people to pay compensation for the equipment that they use to make such copies.
In addition, the Copyright Law has already been amended to protect technological protective and digital right management measures, whether they are used on or offline. Thus, there seems to be no need to implement a private-copying levy system if the trends is towards technological protection models.
The bill received strong support form authors and collecting societies, although the electronic industry opposed it. Even though the provision giving compensation to authors for private copying was removed, the industry has been lobbying the president to use his power of vendor to completely stop the promulgation and publication of the bill. It will be interesting to see how successful these protests are.