Copyright litigation in Mexico: overview

A Q&A guide to copyright litigation in Mexico.
The Q&A gives a high level overview of sources of law; court systems; substantive law; parties to litigation; enforcement options; procedure in courts; preliminary relief; final remedies; appeal remedies; litigation costs; reform.
To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the Copyright litigation Country Q&A tool.
The Q&A is part of the global guide to copyright litigation. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit

Sources of law

1. What are the principal sources of law and regulation relating to copyright and copyright litigation?
The sources of national law relating to copyright law and copyright litigation are the:
  • Federal Copyright Law of 1996 (Copyright Law).
  • Industrial Property Law of 1991.
  • Federal Penal Law of 1931.
  • Federal Civil Code of 1928.
  • Federal Code of Administrative Proceedings of 1994.
  • Federal Code of Civil Proceedings of 1943.
  • Federal Code of Penal Proceedings of 1931.
  • Customs Law of 1995 (Customs Law).
  • Cinematography Law of 1992.
The sources of national regulations to laws relating to copyright or litigation are the:
  • Regulations to the Copyright Law of 1998.
  • Regulations to the Industrial Property Law of 1994.
  • Tariff for Public Performance in General.
  • Tariff for Theatrical Performance.
  • Tariff for Film Exhibition.
  • Tariff for Public Performance in Hotels.
  • Tariff for Broadcasting of Musical Works.
The sources of international law relating to copyright or litigation are the:
  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1886.
  • UN Universal Copyright Convention 1952.
  • Inter-American Copyright Convention on Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works 1946.
  • Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorised Duplication of Their Phonograms 1971.
  • WIPO Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations 1961 (Rome Convention).
  • WIPO Brussels Convention Relating to the Distribution of Programme-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite 1974 (Brussels Satellite Convention).
  • Treaty on the International Registration of Audiovisual Works 1989 (Film Register Treaty).
  • WIPO Copyright Treaty 1996.
  • WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty 1996.
  • WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights 1994 (TRIPS).
  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
There are also a number of free trade agreements without specific IP rules.
A Q&A guide to copyright litigation in Mexico.
The Q&A gives a high level overview of sources of law; court systems; substantive law; parties to litigation; enforcement options; procedure in courts; preliminary relief; final remedies; appeal remedies; litigation costs; reform.
To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the Copyright litigation Country Q&A tool.
The Q&A is part of the global guide to copyright litigation. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit

Court system

2. In which courts is copyright enforced?
Copyrights can be enforced before administrative bodies, or civil or criminal courts. The type of action available depends on the type of rights enforced.
The Copyright Law places copyright enforcement actions under the procedural rules of the Industrial Property Law. Administrative copyright infringement actions can be brought before the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) (IMPI) or the Copyright Office. IMPI oversees the enforcement of copyright and neighbouring exclusive economic rights through infringement actions. IMPI is an administrative body dealing with the registration aspects of industrial property rights. As IMPI was the enforcer of patent and trade mark rights for many years, Congress made copyright also part of IMPI’s jurisdiction with the intention that administrative proceedings would be shorter than judicial proceedings. The Copyright Office, another specialised government body dealing with registration and other administrative matters in relation to copyright law, had no experience with enforcing IP rights when Congress was discussing a new copyright procedural system in 1996. With the advent of the Copyright Law in 1996, the Copyright Office was given the power to render administrative sanctions against certain copyright infringements, including protection of moral rights of paternity and integrity, but not the power to enforce economic rights.
Decisions made by IMPI can be appealed before the Federal Tribunal for Administrative Affairs, an administrative justice tribunal that reviews the resolutions of government bodies. The Tribunal has created an ad hoc chamber or section that deals exclusively with intellectual property matters. The resolutions of the Tribunal can be reviewed by federal circuit courts.
Civil actions can be brought before federal or local civil courts when the matters in dispute include:
  • Remuneration rights, such as unpaid royalties, deriving from licences, assignments or other contracts.
  • Authors’ remuneration rights arising from public exploitation of their works after they have assigned their exclusive economic rights to third parties.
Similarly, civil actions can be taken to pursue damages from violations to exclusive economic rights. However, such actions are available only after IMPI has given a resolution declaring an infringement of rights. The civil courts have no specialisation in copyright affairs.
Criminal actions can be brought before criminal courts in the case of copyright piracy activities or infringement that is perpetrated in bad faith and on a commercial scale. The Attorney General deals with criminal actions. The role of the Attorney General’s Office is to investigate copyright crimes, mainly through a specialised unit with district attorneys qualified in the field. In contrast, the criminal courts have no specialisation in copyright law.
3. Who can represent parties before the court?
The parties must be represented by licensed attorneys-at-law, empowered by the claimant or defendant, if the matter takes place in a judicial court. If the matter is criminal, legally empowered district attorneys handle the proceedings. Any person can intervene with IMPI, in the capacity of representative of the conflicting parties. Collecting societies that have fulfilled the legal requirements to represent affiliate members can take actions on their behalf.
4. What is the language of the proceedings? Is there a choice of language?
The language of proceedings before the courts or administrative bodies must be Spanish.
5. To what extent are courts willing to consider, or are bound by, the decisions or opinions of other national or foreign courts, or other national or international bodies, that have handed down decisions in similar cases?
The courts are not bound to follow the resolutions of foreign courts, and case law is not a source of law in Mexico. However, sometimes IMPI or civil courts have been persuaded, or at least been interested, when parties have cited foreign awards in their allegations.

Substantive law

6. What types of works can be protected by copyright?
The Copyright Law uses the Berne Convention expression of “literary and artistic works” that are original creations in literature, the arts or science. In keeping with this, the notion of copyrightable works is broad and inclusive so as to include any creative expressions that can be considered works of authorship. Similarly, the Copyright Law lists copyrighted works into the following non-exhaustive categories:
  • Literary works.
  • Musical works.
  • Dramatic works.
  • Choreographic works.
  • Paintings or drawings.
  • Sculptures or plastic works.
  • Architectural works.
  • Works of applied arts, including textile and graphic designs.
  • Compilations, characterised as encyclopaedias, anthologies and other related works.
  • Photographs
  • Radio programmes.
  • Films and other audiovisual works.
  • Computer software.
  • Graphic digital works.
  • Audiovisual digital works.
  • Databases.
The author of a work does not have to be a national of Mexico for the work to qualify as copyrightable and works qualify for copyright protection irrespective of the nationality of the author. The Copyright Law states that foreign copyright owners enjoy the same rights as nationals under the international treaties to which Mexico has subscribed (see Question 1). In conformity with international treaties on neighbouring rights, the Copyright Law extends protection to neighbouring rights owners such as:
  • Performing artists.
  • Phonogram (sound recordings) producers or broadcasting organisations who first fix performances.
  • Sound recordings or broadcast signals in a foreign country.
    7. What are the main acts that constitute primary and secondary infringement of copyright?
Users of works can be sued for copyright infringement for undertaking the following acts without authorisation by the copyright holder:
  • Making copies.
  • Distributing copies.
  • Communicating to the public.
  • Transforming a copyrighted work.
The Copyright Law does not expressly recognise “making available” rights. However, this is recognised and regulated in practice through a direct application of the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.
8. Does your jurisdiction provide authors with moral rights?
Authors receive moral rights. Moral rights are personal to authors, and cannot be transferred and are perpetual.
9. What defences are available to an alleged infringer?
Alleged infringers can bring defences on several grounds. The first layer of defence is that either the:
  • Claimant is not the author of the work or has no rights to it.
  • Creation does not qualify as a copyrightable work.
The second layer of defence is that either the:
  • Defendant did not use or exploit (copy in whole or part, distribute, publicly perform or transform) the work.
  • Use made was permitted by the law because of a limitation of economic rights, or was outside the scope of the law.
Fair use and fair dealing cannot be used as defences in Mexico, although they are relevant to specific exceptions and limitations provided by the Copyright Law, or to reliance on the “three step test” recognised by the Berne Convention.
10. Is there a requirement for copyright registration?
Copyright protection is not subject to registration, and is not required to recover damages or other forms of relief. The Copyright Office registers works, but copyright holders do not have an obligation to register. Deposits are not required.

Copyright notice

A copyright notice is not a requirement for protecting rights or for taking actions.

Consequences for failing to register copyright or to display a copyright notice

Failing to display a copyright notice constitutes an administrative infringement subject to fines, if notices are not properly affixed onto copies of works subject to distribution. That provision goes against the domestic system and reflects Berne Convention principles.
11. How long does copyright protection last for the principal types of copyright work?
The term of protection of economic rights is the life of the author plus 100 years. The term applies to every work, without exception. The Copyright Law does not provide special terms for work-for-hire or other situations.
12. How is copyright infringement assessed?
In principle, from the reading of the statute, the Copyright Law appears to require copying to be literal for there to be an infringement. However, in practice, courts have decided cases using the doctrine of substantial similarity.
The Copyright Law does not set out methods for assessing infringement. In practice, infringement is examined according to the nature or category of works. For example, the copying of musical works depends on issues such as the musical structure, harmony or melody used. For software, theories like abstraction tests are valid and can be followed.
13. On what grounds can copyright in a work be declared invalid or unenforceable?
Copyright can be invalidated on the basis that it is not a copyrightable work of authorship, but merely a non-original expression of an idea. Copyright registrations can be annulled for the same reasons as in paternity disputes between a registrant and the true author or copyright owner.
14. What limitation periods apply to copyright infringement actions?
There are no statutes of limitations for actions for infringement of copyright before the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) (IMPI), and no related legal concept such as laches or acquiescence under the Mexican legal framework.
For a copyright infringement action before a civil court, an action would be barred after ten years from the date on which the infringement occurred.
15. To what extent can the enforcement of copyright expose the copyright holder to liability for an anti-trust violation?
A copyright holder can be liable for anti-trust violations to the extent that they carry out an uncompetitive practice by using the work, for example, excluding competitors from the market.

Parties to litigation

16. Who can sue for copyright infringement?

Copyright holder

The copyright holder, as the owner of the economic or moral rights, can sue for:
  • Infringement.
  • Royalty collection or recovery.
  • Cancellation.
  • Paternity disputes.
  • Any action in connection with the rights provided under the Copyright Law
Copyright holders can only assign their economic rights. Being derivative copyright owners, assignees of economic rights can only sue on the basis of contracts executed in writing and recorded at the Copyright Office. Audiovisual producers can bring actions in connection with the audiovisual work, as well as parties who have commissioned the realisation of the works. Neighbouring right holders can also bring actions to enforce their rights.

Exclusive licensee

Licensees of copyright or neighbouring rights can bring actions based on the licence agreement, if the licensor grants to the licensee the right to defend their rights, and the agreement is recorded.

Non-exclusive licensee

Licensees of copyright or neighbouring rights can bring actions based on the licence agreement, if the licensor grants the licensee the right to defend their rights, and the agreement is recorded.
17. Can copyright collecting societies sue for copyright infringement to enforce their members’ rights?
Copyright collecting societies can sue for copyright infringement to enforce their members’ rights. However, if the members decide that the collecting society can initiate actions against third parties, no parallel actions can be initiated against third parties for the same acts.
To collect royalties, the Civil Code and the Copyright Law require that a collecting society prove the:
  • Rights of its members, or the foreign composers represented through reciprocity agreements, in the musical works.
  • Collecting society’s right to act on behalf of the composer through a power of attorney that entitles the collecting society to collect royalties and bring court actions.
18. Under what conditions, if any, can an alleged infringer bring proceedings to obtain a declaratory judgment of non-infringement?
A declaratory judgment of non-infringement is not possible under either the Copyright Law or general procedural laws. Non-infringement can only be raised as a defence in infringement proceedings.
19. Who can be sued for copyright infringement?
Unauthorised users of works can be sued for copyright infringement and for collection of royalties or remuneration rights.
Directors, managers, representatives, members of management committees and, in some circumstances, shareholders of companies can be personally liable if the company that they invest in, manage, or represent, has been convicted of a crime.
The Copyright Law and the general procedural laws do not recognise contributory infringement or vicarious liability as such. The criminal laws set out rules that can be similar to contributory infringement. For example, the Penal Code sets out the circumstances under which somebody is deemed to commit a crime. However, these are restricted to situations where participants knowingly take positive steps to assist those who have ultimately perpetrated the crime. Similarly, the Penal Code recognises specific secondary liability when third parties supply the raw materials or consumables for reproducing works.
20. How is the liability of intermediaries, such as internet service providers treated? Under what conditions can they be liable for copyright infringement? Are there any specific defences available to them?
The Copyright Law and the general procedural laws do not recognise contributory infringement or vicarious liability. Therefore, intermediaries such as internet service providers (ISPs) cannot be liable for copyright infringement in Mexico, and there are therefore no relevant safe harbours. The only way that intermediaries could be liable as a result of copyright infringement actions, is where preliminary injunctions are imposed on them and they refuse to comply. Intermediaries such as ISPs can cite the violation of constitutional rights such as freedom of expression or access to information as defences to preliminary injunctions.
In the recent important Alestra case, the Federal Supreme Court established that preliminary injunctions blocking of a website for copyright violation had to comply with the following requirements:
  • The measure must be recognised by law. The Mexican Industrial Property Law, as well as the Mexican Copyright Law Regulation recognise the possibility that preliminary injunctions can be ordered against an infringer and against third parties.
  • The measure must have a legitimate purpose. An injunction blocking a website for copyright infringement must have the legitimate purpose of protecting copyright and neighbouring right holders.
  • The measure must be necessary and proportionate. Partial website blocking is allowed as long as the preliminary injunction is duly reasoned and justified by the implementing authority. A consideration of all the relevant rights must be clearly undertaken. Total website blocking is allowed only if a totality or great majority of the contents of the website are illegal. The order implementing the preliminary injunction must also be duly reasoned and justified.
Mexico is currently re-negotiating NAFTA with the US and Canada, and it is very likely that as a result Mexico will be compelled to adopt provisions such as the ones contained in the US Digital Millennium Act or EU directives in relation to the liability of intermediaries for copyright violations.
21. Is it possible to add or remove parties during litigation?
It is not possible to add or remove parties during litigation. If the claimant reaches settlement with one or more co-defendants they can be removed from proceedings, which then continue against the non-settling co-defendants(s).

Enforcement options

22. What options are open to a copyright holder when seeking to enforce its rights in your jurisdiction?
Administrative, civil and criminal options are available for copyright holders to enforce their rights. See Question 2.
23. Is interim relief available for the rapid removal of infringing content from the internet?
Interim relief is available against the infringer and intermediaries for the rapid removal of infringing content from the internet. See Question 20.
24. Is it advisable to send a letter before action (cease and desist letter) to an alleged infringer before commencing copyright infringement proceedings?
It is not compulsory to send a cease and desist letter to an alleged infringer before commencing copyright infringement proceedings but it is common practice. Some infringers have filed criminal actions against the signatories of such letters based on libel or slander, arguing that they have been affected by unjustified threats. However, such criminal actions have so far been unsuccessful.
25. To what extent are your national courts able to grant cross-border or extra-territorial injunctions (preliminary or permanent)?
The issue of cross-border or extra-territorial injunctions has not been tested before the courts. Procedural rules allow judges to declare extra-territorial injunctions, for example, for violations to the Mexican Copyright Law perpetrated by parties domiciled outside Mexico. However, since the question has never been raised in practice, it is difficult to predict if judges would be willing to support this.
26. To what extent are arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods (such as mediation), available to resolve copyright disputes?
ADR has become an important method for resolving disputes in Mexico. Since ADR, and particularly arbitration, have been used more frequently, a number of cases have arrived at court, including at the Supreme Court of Justice, which have set criteria under the UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (New York Convention) framework for how disputes can be arbitrated and awards executed or challenged.
Copyright arbitration has been growing in parallel to general commercial arbitration, particularly in the film industry. Increasingly, licence or other agreements relating to copyright or entertainment law matters are negotiated with arbitration clauses. Similarly, general arbitration institutions such as the Mexican Chamber of Commerce (Centro de Arbitraje de Mexico) have lists of copyright experts. The Copyright Office can also act as an arbitration institution and keeps a list of arbitrators that is updated every year and published in the federal government’s gazette. On an international level, copyright holders and users have used arbitration systems such as the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) or the new WIPO arbitration project on entertainment law. Both have Mexican experts on their lists.

Procedure in civil courts

27. What is the format of copyright infringement proceedings?
The format of copyright infringement proceedings depends on the action filed. The Copyright Law is applicable in substantive matters, and the Federal Code of Civil Proceedings governs litigation in federal courts. In local litigation, the states’ procedural codes are substituted for the federal legislation, but the Copyright Law continues to apply.
As civil proceedings are governed by either federal or local procedural codes, actions claiming remuneration or damages or requesting the cancellation or registrations must follow these statutes’ norms and rules. The rules cover:
  • Filing and responding to complaints.
  • Hearings.
  • Incidental recourses.
  • Allegations.
  • Sentences.
  • Appeal.
Preliminary measures are possible under the procedural codes, but are more restrictively applied in practice, in comparison to the Law on Industrial Property.
Criminal proceedings are exclusively federal and are governed by the:
  • Copyright Law.
  • Penal Code.
  • Federal Code of Penal Proceedings.
Criminal proceedings are divided into preliminary inquiries and a process or trial. The investigative stage starts with a private claim by the copyright owner through private actions, or by a public claim (depending on the type of crime), and terminates with a resolution granting or denying indictment. As a criminal action is private, the federal prosecutor can only start to investigate after a copyright owner or their representative has filed a claim. Accordingly, title and representation must be proved. The copyright owner can control the initiation and termination of the proceeding by withdrawing the claim at any time.
The federal prosecutor or district attorney is in charge of the investigation, and is therefore empowered to collect evidence to conclude that a crime has been committed. Among other investigative measures, the district attorney can inspect premises and seize objects. If inspection is made of private property, a search and warrants order issued by a judge is required. After indictment, the matter is brought before a district judge, who then starts a criminal process or trial if they arrive at a prima facie conclusion that there is a crime. The defendant is granted a constitutional right to reply to the charges and to be formally imprisoned, or liberated if the charges have no merit. The judge conducts the criminal trial with the General Attorney’s Office. The victim can assist the General Attorney in the prosecution of the trial. Both the General Attorney’s Office and the defendant, if convicted, can file an appeal before a unitary court and then file a review at a circuit court.
Copyright administrative proceedings are also federal and are governed by the:
  • Copyright Law.
  • Law on Industrial Property.
  • Federal Code of Administrative Proceedings.
  • Federal Code of Civil Proceedings.

    The Federal Code of Civil Proceedings can supplement the administrative code, in particular when a given procedural norm is insufficient.

Contentious administrative proceedings are summary in nature and are intended to avoid procedural steps such as intermediate appeals. In theory, they are generally restricted to the filing of a complaint, an answer and final arguments. Preliminary measures are possible before or even during the principal proceeding, including preliminary injunctions, inspections, and seizures. Resolutions can be appealed before the Federal Administrative Court and reviewed by a circuit court.
Disputed issues are always decided by judges in a court proceeding, or by administrative officers if held by the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) (IMPI).
28. What are the rules and practice concerning evidence in copyright infringement proceedings in your jurisdiction?
Civil and criminal proceedings allow all forms of evidence. Administrative proceedings are subject to certain restrictions, as parties can only submit testimonies and confessions in writing and therefore cross-examination is not possible. The value of affidavits is small in civil and criminal proceedings. In administrative proceedings, affidavits are equal to testimonies and can have persuasive value. Expert testimonies must comply with certain formalities. Both parties appoint experts who give testimonies in writing. The court or the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) (IMPI) will bring third party experts to give their opinion when testimonies conflict.
29. To what extent is survey evidence used?
Survey evidence is principally used at the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) (IMPI) in connection with trade mark matters. It has been never used in copyright proceedings, as copying matters, including issues of substantial similarity, are not relevant to consumers or the general public. Copying is assessed by experts in the relevant field.
30. Is evidence obtained for criminal proceedings admissible in civil proceedings, and vice versa?
Evidence obtained for criminal proceedings is admissible in civil proceedings, and vice versa.
31. Is evidence obtained in civil proceedings admissible in other civil proceedings?
Evidence obtained for civil proceedings is admissible in other civil proceedings.
32. To what extent is pre-trial discovery permitted and what other mechanisms are available for obtaining evidence from an adverse party or third parties?
Discovery is not available under any of the procedural laws. In administrative proceedings, any party can ask the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) (IMPI) to order the other party to produce evidence. Such evidence must be specifically identified and be connected to the issues subject to the litigation.
33. What level of proof is required for establishing infringement?
To establish infringement or invalidity, proof must convincingly, objectively and directly demonstrate the wrong, in itself or together with other proof.
34. How long do copyright infringement proceedings typically last?

Expediting proceedings

Civil proceedings can take from one to three years, and sometimes longer if the subject matter involved is more complex. Administrative proceedings take from two to five years. They can be sped up, but that depends on the backlog of the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) (IMPI). Criminal matters can be swift, depending on the evidence against the alleged infringers.

Delaying proceedings

Defendants can use several alternative tactics to delay proceedings. For example, they can bring frivolous counter-actions to challenge the copyright, taking advantage of the fact that the courts or IMPI must decide on the counter-actions before addressing the principal action.

Counteracting delay to proceedings

It is hard for a claimant to counter these tactics, apart from asking the court or IMPI to resolve them as quickly as possible.

Preliminary relief

35. Is preliminary relief available, and if so what measures are available and under what conditions?
Civil procedure laws provide preliminary measures, but courts apply them so restrictively that they are never granted.
A range of preliminary measures are available in administrative procedures. Claimants can seek preliminary injunctions, seizures and site inspections, among other things. However, defendants can easily lift preliminary measures by posting a bond or a counter-bond (if the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) (IMPI) previously required the claimant to file a bond as a warranty against damages when granting the preliminary measures).
In criminal proceedings, district attorneys can ask judges to make search and warrant orders to:
  • Conduct raids.
  • Seize infringing copies.
  • Review premises, documents or evidence.
  • Arrest people.

    36. Can a protective writ be filed at the court at which an ex parte application may be filed against that defendant?

Protective writs are not recognised.
37. What is the format for preliminary injunction proceedings?


The claimant must file a petition for preliminary measures in writing, showing a prima facie copyright infringement. Evidence is submitted for this purpose, together with a bond as a warrant of damages. IMPI admits the petition and assesses the infringement (although in practice it does not analyse the infringement and automatically approve the petition). A few days later, the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) (IMPI) responds to the claimant, generally granting the petition and providing a date for it, as well as a date for performing a search of premises and seizure, if requested by the claimant. IMPI may ask the claimant to increase the amount of the bond if, after the search and seizure is made, IMPI finds that the original amount is too low to cover possible damages if the case was decided in favour of the defendant. Once the preliminary measures are notified and implemented, the defendant has 20 business days to produce a response. At the same time, the claimant has ten business days to file an infringement action, based on the merits. The defendant can ask IMPI to eliminate the preliminary measures order by posting a counter-bond, which IMPI normally fixes as double the original bond.

Level of proof

The level of proof required for establishing infringement in preliminary injunction proceedings is showing a prima facie case. The level of proof needed for establishing invalidity in preliminary injunction proceedings is full proof.


In theory, all sorts of evidence is valid in preliminary injunction proceedings, subject to the limitations of administrative proceedings. However, most petitions are supported by documentary evidence only.

Copyright validity

The Copyright Law and procedural laws do not allow a defendant to challenge the validity of copyright in preliminary administrative infringement proceedings. Defendants generally wait until the claimant actually brings an infringement action to counterclaim against the validity of the copyright. The Copyright and Industrial Property Laws follow TRIPS standards relating to preliminary measures proceedings and how they are independent from regular infringement proceedings.

Length of proceedings

Preliminary injunction proceedings take a few days or weeks from the date that they are filed to when they are implemented.
38. Where a preliminary injunction is granted, is it necessary to start main proceedings to confirm the preliminary injunction, and if so, what is the deadline?
Main proceedings must be started within ten business days after a preliminary injunction has been notified to the defendant.
39. What remedies are available in a copyright infringement action?

Permanent injunction

In civil matters, the typical available remedies are monetary. Remedies in administrative matters typically include:
  • Final injunction.
  • Fines.
  • Shutdown of establishment.
  • Destruction of seized goods.
Final injunctions can be effective against the infringer’s suppliers or customers, or can be employed against future infringements.
Remedies in criminal matters typically include imprisonment and fines, as well as remedies to repair the effects of the breaches.
Final injunctions can be effective against the infringer’s suppliers or customers, or can be employed against future infringements.
40. How are monetary remedies assessed against a copyright infringer?
Under the Civil Procedural Code, a claimant can recover either or both:
  • Economic losses, including lost profits and royalties.
  • Profits that the claimant would have earned if the infringement had not been committed.
The Copyright Law includes an ad hoc formula applicable once copyright infringement is found, known as the “40% rule”. Under the 40% rule, damages for economic or moral rights violation are set a minimum of 40% of the sale price obtained by the infringer from selling copies of the works or rendering infringing services. The 40% rule does not represent punitive or statutory damages, but is more similar to these than lost profits or reasonable royalties would be. The difference is that it does not trigger automatically on an infringement, despite the language employed in the law being quite straightforward. Damages must be proved first, otherwise the 40% rule would go against civil law and the Constitution. The rule functions as a minimum standard provision applicable when damages can be proved. To request application of the 40% rule, the author or copyright holder must prove that the infringer received income or revenue by selling copies of a work or by rendering a service using a work, without having obtained authorisation from the copyright holder or without having paid a royalty.
The rule is more complicated in the case of moral rights, since the author claiming damages for violation of a moral right would first need to show that the infringement triggered economic harm. There are no decisions awarding damages for violation of moral rights.

Appeal remedies

41. What routes of appeal are available to the unsuccessful party and what conditions apply?
See Question 2. If an appeal is filed, relief is stayed pending its outcome. Appeal proceedings last between six months and one year.

Litigation costs

42. What level of cost should a party expect to incur to take a case through to a first instance decision, preliminary injunction proceedings and appeal proceedings?
Attorney fees and costs can only be recovered by the winning party in civil proceedings. This depends on the behaviour of the losing party, in the opinion of the judge.


43. What are the important developing and emerging trends in your country’s copyright law?
Mexico is currently re-negotiating NAFTA with the US and Canada, and it is very likely that as a result Mexico will be compelled to adopt provisions such as the ones contained in the US Digital Millennium Act (DMCA) or EU directives in relation to the liability of intermediaries for copyright violations.

Breve Analisis sobre la Protección Jurídica de los Programas de Computación en México





El derecho de autor pertenece a la rama del derecho denominada “propiedad intelectual”, la cual a su vez incorpora el derecho sobre las creaciones nuevas – patentes, diseños industriales, modelos de utilidad y secretos industriales-, signos distintivos -marcas de producto o servicio, nombres y avisos comerciales y denominaciones de origen- y la represión a la competencia desleal. El maestro David Rangel Medina ha señalado que “al conjunto de los derechos resultantes de las concepciones de la inteligencia y del trabajo intelectual, contemplados principalmente desde el aspecto del provecho material que de ellos puede resultar acostúmbrase darle la denominación genérica de propiedad intelectual o las denominaciones equivalentes propiedad inmaterial, bienes jurídicos inmateriales y derechos intelectuales.” (David Rangel Medina, Tratado de Derecho Marcario, Editorial Libros de México, S.A., México, 1960, p.89).
El común denominador de la propiedad intelectual es precisamente la creatividad intelectual que resulta del conocimiento científico, inventivo, técnico, literario, artístico y mercadológico del ser humano y comprende tanto obras artísticas e intelectuales: invenciones, diseños de carácter industrial, conocimientos técnicos y secretos no patentados y el crédito comercial, aviamiento o “goodwill” que desarrollan las empresas y comercios en el empleo de sus estrategias comerciales: de mercadotecnia y publicitarias, bajo el apoyo de marcas y demás signos distintivos.
En nuestro país, el sistema de propiedad intelectual se origina de la misma Constitución Política, que reconoce derechos exclusivos de uso y explotación en favor de quienes producen invenciones u obras intelectuales. Sin embargo, la regulación especifica de las figuras mencionadas corresponde a las legislaciones denominadas “Ley Fomento y Protección a la Propiedad Industrial” (LFPPI), para el caso de creaciones nuevas, signos distintivos y represión de la competencia desleal y “Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor” (LFDA), para el caso de las obras intelectuales y artísticas.
Para efectos del presente capítulo se hará referencia únicamente a aquella parte de la propiedad intelectual que se refiere al derecho de autor.



El derecho de autor se ha definido en nuestro país como “el conjunto de normas que protegen a la persona del autor y su obra respecto del reconocimiento de la calidad de autor, de la facultad que tiene el autor para oponerse a toda modificación que pretenda hacerse de su obra sin su consentimiento y del derecho exclusivo que tiene el autor de explotar y usar temporalmente su obra por sí mismo o por terceros, (Nicolás Pizarro Macías, Las Regalías Recibidas por los Autores por Otorgar a Terceros el Uso y Explotación de los Derechos de Autor, conferencia dictada en la Barra de Abogados el 3 de Octubre de 1986, p1).
De la definición citada se observa que el derecho de autor protege al creador de las obras intelectuales y artísticas y a su obra, cuyo contenido es de carácter artístico o intelectual, resultado del pensamiento y sensibilidad humana. Los autores gozan de una gama de derechos relacionados con el aspecto patrimonial y moral de la obra, los cuales se comentarán más adelante.


El sistema de protección de derechos de autor en México está orientado a proteger en principio a la persona física denominada “autor” y para ello se le han reconocido una serie de derechos de carácter exclusivos. Por otra parte, se considera a la obra como el producto o resultado de la actividad creativa del autor y la expresión de su talento, sensibilidad e ingenio. Para ser objeto de protección, la obra debe representar una verdadera expresión creativa, original, completa, unitaria y que tenga un significado propio. Además, la ley mexicana sobre la materia, requiere la fijación de la misma en un objeto o medio tangible para que sea objeto de protección, lo cual no significa que el derecho exclusivo sobre la creación de carácter inmaterial se extienda sobre dicho medio tangible.
La ley establece una referencia ilustrativa de diferentes géneros de obras entre las cuales se mencionan las “obras literarias; científicas, técnicas y jurídicas, pedagógicas y didácticas; musicales, con letra o sin ella; de danza, coreográficas y pantomímicas, pictóricas, de dibujo, grabado y litografía; escultóricas y de carácter plástico; de arquitectura; de fotografía, cinematografía, audiovisuales, de radio y televisión; de programas de computación, y todas las demás que por analogía pudieran considerarse comprendidas dentro de los tipos genéricos de obras artísticas e intelectuales antes mencionadas.” (Artículo 7o LFDA)
Las obras pueden ser individuales o colectivas, según la participación de una o varias personas en ellas. Son obras colectivas aquellas realizadas por un grupo de dos o más autores a los que se denomina coautores o colaboradores para el caso de que contribuyan en la realización de una obra determinada. Hay casos especiales, que se comentarán más adelante, en los que las obras resultan de la acción y coordinación de una persona física o moral con la colaboración especial y remunerada de varios creadores intelectuales.


La Ley mexicana del derecho de autor reconoce dos clases o subespecies de derechos que son los derechos morales y patrimoniales. Los derechos morales representan la manifestación de la personalidad del autor en el mundo en que lo rodea. Esto significa que por medio de la obra, el autor comunica al exterior aquello que reside en su espíritu o interior; es por lo tanto una forma de expresar o proyectar toda aquella idea que recoge de sus conocimientos, experiencias y sentimientos. En tal virtud, los derechos morales no podrán renunciarse, transferirse, alienarse o cederse; toda vez que son inherentes al autor, quien los detenta en forma permanente y perpetua durante el transcurso de su vida y con posterioridad a su muerte, sin que estos prescriban. A la muerte del autor, serán sus herederos legítimos o por virtud de testamento, quienes tendrán a su cargo el ejercicio de los mismos.
En la doctrina del derecho de autor se conocen varias categorías de derechos morales, de las cuales la legislación mexicana reconoce dos en forma expresa: el derecho moral de paternidad y el derecho moral de integridad. La primera categoría señalado “consiste en que cada vez que se utilice una obra protegida por el derecho de autor, la persona que la utilice tiene la obligación de mencionar el nombre del autor. A través de esta norma la legislación busca establecer una vinculación permanente entre la obra y el creador y el creador de la obra, el autor.” (Nicolás Pizarro El Derecho de Autor, Conferencia pronunciada ante la Cámara Nacional de la Industria Editorial Mexicana, el día 15 de septiembre de1982, p.9). El segundo de los derechos morales, o sea el de oposición a modificar las obras sin consentimiento del autor, significa que el usuario de las obras no podrá modificar, ni siquiera el signo de puntuación más insignificante, sin la autorización del autor. Por consiguiente, existe impedimento jurídico de modificar la obra, ya sea total o parcialmente, mientras no exista la autorización correspondiente. Por otro lado, en virtud de los derechos patrimoniales, el autor goza de la facultad para utilizar y explotar la obra en forma exclusiva. De esta forma, dicho autor o su causahabiente pueden transferir, licenciar o disponer de sus derechos patrimoniales y establecer los mecanismos de uso y explotación y condiciones de lugar, modo y tiempo. Para efectos didácticos, es posible dividir los derechos patrimoniales de autor en cinco grandes rubros: derecho a la reproducción de la obra, derecho a su comercialización y distribución, derecho al control en la producción de otras derivadas -arregles, compendios, ampliaciones, traducciones, adaptaciones, compilaciones (incluyendo bases de datos electrónicas), y transformaciones de obras-, derecho a la utilización, proyección y representación pública de la obra y derecho a la exhibición de obras plásticas.
No obstante lo anterior, cabe mencionar que el derecho patrimonial no radica necesariamente en función del autor de las obras, sino en función de quien esté facultado para explotarlas. Hay casos en los que la ley mexicana del derecho de autor otorga derechos originarios de uso y explotación a personas físicas y morales que en la producción de obras, recurren al encargo de partes de la obra o su totalidad a creadores intelectuales, quienes participan en la producción de ésta con la categoría de colaboradores remunerados. A manera de requisito constitutivo, la ley Mexicana otorga a la colaboración el carácter de remunerada y especial y la obligación a quien encarga de mencionar el nombre de los colaboradores. Las formas más frecuentes de colaboración remunerada se derivan de la relación de trabajo y del encargo al autor independiente.


Por último la Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor suscribe el principio de ausencia de formalidades respecto del registro y utilización de leyendas de ley, en armonía con lo que disponen la Convención de Berna para la Protección de Obras Literarias y Artísticas y la Convención Interamericana de Washington. De esta forma de conformidad con nuestra ley, no resulta obligatorio recurrir al registro de las obras como requisito de protección toda vez que dicho registro produce efectos declarativos y no constitutivos los cuales están únicamente vinculados con la creación misma de las obras. Sin embargo, el registro de la obra establece la presunción de ser ciertos los hechos y actos que de ellas consten, salvo prueba en contrario.
El principio de ausencia de formalidades cubre asimismo el uso de las leyendas de ley. Sin embargo, la LFDA señala que en caso de que no se utilicen las leyendas en un sitio visible de la reproducción de la obra que objeto de publicación y en caso contrario no se producirá la pérdida del derecho de autor, pero la ley sujeta al editor responsable a las sanciones que ésta establece.



El Dr. Julio Téllez Valdez menciona que “la computadora es una máquina que puede aceptar datos en una forma prescrita, procesarlos y proporcionarlos en un formato especifico ya sea como información o señales para controlar automáticamente otras máquinas o bajo la forma de otros procesos. La computadora se constituye esencialmente por componentes físicos (hardware) y por el soporte lógico (software).” (Julio Téllez Valdez, Contratos Informáticos, UNAM Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1988, p.10).
De lo anterior se desprende que la computadora no se limita en el aspecto físico de la misma y requiere de programas de computación para poder funcionar. Se ha definido al programa de computación como “el conjunto de procedimientos o reglas que integran el soporte lógico de las máquinas que permiten la consecución de un proceso de tratamiento de la información.”
Un programa de computación permite la realización de diversas tareas que van desde el funcionamiento interno de una computadora -sistema operativo-, hasta la obtención de un objetivo especifico -programa de aplicación-. Existen sin embargo otras formas de programas como los copiladores, traductores, ensambladores, sistemas organizacionales de multiproceso y sistemas controladores de multiproceso entre otros. Como podrá apreciarse, los propósitos de los programas de computación son muy variados sin embargo comparten una característica común permiten al usuario la realización de su trabajo con mucho mayor rapidez, orden y efectividad que sin éstos.
En el mundo actual los programas de computación representan elementos muy importantes de competitividad y desarrollo. Es más, podría afirmarse que sí bien durante los años sesenta los recursos se invertían en una proporción aproximada de 70% en el caso del “hardware” y 30% en caso del “software”, en la actualidad los papeles se han invertido, considerando los altos costos a que asciende su desarrollo y los recursos humanos, técnicos, económicos y materiales requeridos. No obstante lo anterior, resulta muy difícil recuperar las sumas que se llegan a invertir en este campo situación que se agrava significantemente en virtud del problema de la piratería de los programas y la falta de medidas de control y protección suficientes y adecuadas.



El primer antecedente de protección de los programas de computación en nuestro país data del año de 1984, fecha en el que se publicó el “Acuerdo 114 de la Secretaría de Educación Pública”. Dicho cuerpo normativo expedido por este órgano de la administración pública federal, constituye el primer intento para reconocer protección a los programas de computación a través del derecho de autor. No obstante que la regulación de los programas de computación se dio al margen de La Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor, a través de dicho acuerdo se resolvió que la Dirección General del Derecho de Autor debería aceptarlos para registro otorgándoles el tratamiento de obras.
La Dirección General del Derecho de Autor dio comienzo a la tarea de registrar los programas que le eran presentados, para lo cual se había determinado previamente en el “Acuerdo 114”, que el material de depósito en estos casos lo constituiría cualquier formato en que el programa fuera materializado, pero que se podrían presentar las primeras 10 y últimas 10 hojas del programa en código fuente o código objeto. Asimismo, debería presentarse una copia impresa del directorio del programa cuyo registro se solicitaba. Dicha forma de regulación prevaleció en el derecho positivo de nuestro país por más de seis años, hasta que en el año de1991 se produjo una reforma a la Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor, que incluyó entre otros, la incorporación de los programas de computación como un género de obra independiente y autónomo respecto del resto de las demás obras expresamente mencionadas por la Ley hasta ese entonces. En virtud de lo anterior, la protección que otorga dicha Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor a los titulares de esos derechos, se hizo extensiva a los creadores y productores de programas de computación.


La reforma de 1991 contempla aspectos vinculados en forma específica con la protección de los programas de computación. En primer lugar cabe señalar que se considera como una limitación o excepción al derecho patrimonial de autor el hecho que el poseedor de la copia de un programa de computación, legalmente obtenida, realice una copia adicional de respaldo, con el objeto de proteger dicho programa frente a imponderables de carácter técnico que produzcan su destrucción, daño o deterioro. Asimismo, la reforma incorpora un precepto, muy criticado por cierto que establece un régimen de excepción al acceso del público a los archivos de registro de obras de computación en el Registro Público del Derecho de Autor, el cual como su nombre indica tiene el carácter de público y por lo tanto de acceso general. La razón del precepto comentado reside en que los programas de computación contienen secretos industriales diversos, mismos que quedarían a la vista del público si este tuviera acceso al material de depósito, sobre todo en caso que dicho material de depósito lo constituyera una copia del programa en su versión de código fuente.
Por último, la reforma de la Ley introdujo mayores sanciones y penalidades en materia de derecho de autor, además de establecer un tipo especifico para el caso de quien sin autorización del autor o de sus causahabientes “reproduzca con fines de lucro un programa de computación.” El presente tipo delictivo ha sido criticado también ya que se considera innecesario a la luz de disposiciones semejantes y en algunos casos más amplias que se refieren a las obras en general de las cuales forma parte el programa de computación.


De los comentarios esbozados anteriormente se infiere que la reforma de 1991 fue encaminada a establecer reglas más claras respecto de los derechos de quienes crean y producen programas de computación y de quienes los comercializan y/o utilizan. Prueba de lo anterior lo constituye la excepción específica de la copia de respaldo, como única que puede realizarse libremente de cada programa original y la excepción de acceso restringido a la consulta de registros y expedientes pertenecientes al Registro Público del Derecho de Autor en materia de programas de computación.
Por otra parte, el tipo y sanción penal adoptada por el legislador para el caso concreto de los programas de computación representa un intento más para establecer medidas adecuadas de protección y combate a la piratería, la cual ha llegado a niveles alarmantes durante los últimos años. Sin embargo, cabe comentar que el alcance jurídico de dicho tipo y sanción penal no corresponde a los estándares que ofrecen las legislaciones de otros países, desarrollados e inclusive en vías de desarrollo, en razón de ciertas deficiencias que se comentarán en seguida:


La Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor estableció un tipo específico para el caso de reproducciones de programas de computación, sin autorización del titular del derecho correspondiente (como se dejó de manifiesto líneas atrás); sin embargo, omitió pronunciamientos de forma específica, en relación a la utilización ilícita de programas de computación y de otros actos violatorios al derecho que pueden realizarse con respecto a un programa. En esa virtud, hay quienes consideran que dichas conductas distintas a la reproducción del programa podrían encuadrar en otros tipos delictivos de los previstos por la misma Ley, como es el caso del articulo 135 fracción I, que establece un tipo general para el caso de que una obra se use o explote con fines de lucro y sin autorización del titular de los derechos. Lo anterior se concluye en virtud de que siendo uno de los géneros de obras protegidas, el programa de computación merece una protección amplia, que abarque todo tipo de conductas antijurídicas, y no restringida simplemente a la reproducción del mismo. En consecuencia se considera que la última parte de la fracción III del artículo 135 no tiene razón de ser y por lo tanto no debió incorporarse a la ley.


Por otra parte, la sanción penal que señala la Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor por la reproducción ilícita de programas de computación asciende a prisión de seis meses a seis años y multa de 50 a 500 veces el salario mínimo general prevaleciente en el Distrito Federal. Dichas sanciones se consideran bajas toda vez que por un lado, respecto de la sanción privativa de libertad, ésta no rebaza el término medio aritmético de 5 años que se considera para alcanzar la libertad bajo fianza durante la etapa del proceso penal. Por lo que toca a la sanción de tipo económico, ésta alcanzaría un máximo de N$7,635.00, la cual no refleja la clase de daño que causa este tipo de piratería a los titulares de los derechos quienes invierten sus recursos materiales, humanos y económicos en cantidades mucho muy importantes, además del perjuicio que se causa a la competencia honesta, al fisco y a la sociedad, que considera a los bienes informáticos y más concretamente a los programas de computación, corno instrumentos esenciales de desarrollo.


Un tercer aspecto de critica lo constituye la intención o fin de “lucro” que califica la acción ilícita de reproducción de los programas de computación.
En todo proceso de análisis y aprobación de leyes el legislador debe compenetrarse con la materia que se estudia y con la conducta que se pretende regular y tipificar. Es únicamente del conocimiento profundo del fondo del asunto que se obtendrá un tipo penal justo; de lo contrario dicho tipo constituirá un obstáculo que lejos de combatir y punir el mal social, lo tolerará e incluso fomentará.
En el caso específico de los programas de computación, la piratería más nociva la practican los usuarios corporativos, que reproducen una copia del programa -original o no-, en los discos duros de todas las computadoras personales de dicha entidad o empresa. De similar magnitud se considera la conducta que realiza aquel distribuidor de computadoras que con la venta de éstas, incluye la copia de algún programa, obviamente sin autorización para ello, con el único propósito de “enganchar” un cliente, quien se ve atraído por la oferta, ventajosa e ilícita de dicho vendedor pirata. Debe apreciarse que en ambos casos el pirata no comercializa el programa y por lo tanto, podría pensarse que su actividad se apega al derecho, por no trastocar el elemento de “lucro”. Sin embargo, los Tribunales y el Ministerio Público han aceptado el criterio del “lucro indirecto”, reconocido por la Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor, en su artículo 75 y que se aplica en los casos que la explotación de la obra resulta en un beneficio económico para el infractor, aunque este no resulte necesariamente de la venta. En esa virtud, se ha considerado que el usuario corporativo de los programas que los reproduce o utiliza sin autorización, sin pagar el importe correspondiente, estará obteniendo un ahorro y por lo tanto una ventaja económica respecto de aquellos competidores honestos, que si invierten en el producto original, lo que se traduce finalmente en beneficios de carácter económico.
Lo mismo sucede en el caso del distribuidor de computadoras, quien se vale de un derecho ajeno, por el cual no paga, lo que le permite vender sus productos con mayor facilidad que la competencia.
No obstante la solución que se ha encontrado para librar los obstáculos impuestos por el legislador en torno al elemento de “lucro”, contenido en el artículo 135 fracción III de la Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor, éste debería suprimirse del tipo con el fin de adecuarlo al contexto real de esta clase de actos de piratería y así evitar los riesgos de criterios anacrónicos y absurdos, que perjudiquen el bien jurídico tutelado y que la sociedad de nuestro país busca proteger.


Un aspecto muy curioso que contempla la reforma de la Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor consiste en el carácter de oficiocidad que expresamente se confirió el delito de reproducción no autorizada de programas de computación, frente a la mayoría de los tipos contemplados por la Ley, que se persiguen de querella de parte ofendida. Resulta pues inexplicable la intención del legislador para considerar que los delitos de reproducción de programas de computación debían perseguirse de oficio a diferencia de los demás, entre los cuales podrían incluirse algunos más vinculados con la materia de computación. Sin embargo, el carácter de oficiosidad de esta clase de delitos ha provocado problemas graves, sobre todo en aquellos casos que se han solucionado a través de arreglos entre las partes en conflicto, en los cuales se han resarcido los daños causados por la acción de piratería.



El Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLC), celebrada entre Canada, Estados Unidos y México, comenzó su vigencia con fecha 1° de enero de 1994, lo cual representa que los compromisos adoptados por nuestro país derivados de dicho ordenamiento internacional han cobrado actualidad e importancia. El TLC contempla un capítulo XVII, referente a los derechos de propiedad intelectual, entre los que se consideran al derecho de autor y más concretamente a los programas de computación.
Es posible apreciar que el TLC constituirá un instrumento jurídico muy interesante, que en el campo de la propiedad intelectual buscará acercar dos sistemas distintos, provenientes de tradiciones y estructuras jurídicas diferentes, que derivan del “common law” anglosajón y del derecho romano, con influencias posteriores del derecho francés y español. En tal virtud, para lograr dicho acercamiento, el TLC formula una serie de principios de los que destacan los de trato al extranjero como a los nacionales del país que le corresponde aplicar una ley determinada y el de estándares mínimos que deberán observar las leyes de propiedad intelectual de los tres países miembros.
No obstante, el acercamiento que provocará el TLC, existe la posibilidad de que paralelamente surjan conflictos de aplicación de leyes entre estos tres países. Ello se agudiza por lo que toca a la materia de derecho de autor, si se considera que México pertenece a un sistema distinto que Canadá y los Estados Unidos. El enfrentamiento y rechazo de sistemas (sistema de derecho de autor y sistema de copyright), se sucitó con claridad, con el surgimiento de la Convención de Berna  para la Protección de Obras Literarias y Artísticas y muchos años más tarde con el Convenio de Roma que creó la Comunidad Económico Europea y la Directiva de Software, adoptada por la misma CEE.
En virtud del TLC nuestro país tendrá que modificar varias de sus leyes, incluyendo la Federal de Derechos de Autor, para adecuarla a las disposiciones del TLC. Los programas de computación no escapan a la necesidad de cambio, toda vez que el TLC establece disposiciones relacionadas con el tema que causarán impacto en nuestro derecho y que no son compatibles con el mismo actualmente. Los casos más palpables corresponden a la obligación de los países signatarios de considerar a los programas de computación como obras literarias; al establecimiento de disposiciones legales tendientes a la protección de bases de datos electrónicas (lo cual sucedió ya con la publicación en el Diario Oficial de la Federación del Decreto de fecha 22 de diciembre de 1993, el cual “reforma, adiciona y deroga disposiciones de diversas leyes relacionadas con el Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte), y a la implementación de una ley especial para la protección de topografías o esquemas de trazado de circuitos semiconductores integrados.


Sin embargo, el aspecto más importante del TLC en materia de programas de computación lo constituye el llamado “rental right” o “derecho de renta”, que si bien podría aplicarse al caso de videogramas, asimismo tiene una repercusión trascendental en el caso concreto de los programas de computación. Al efecto, el artículo 1705 (2)(b) y (d) establece lo siguiente:
“Cada una de las Partes otorgara a los autores y sus causahabientes los derechos que se enuncian en el convenio de Berna respecto de las obras consideradas en el párrafo 1, incluyendo el derecho de autorizar y prohibir;
“(b) la primera distribución pública del original y de cada copia de la obra mediante venta, renta u otra manera;
“(d) la renta comercial del original o de una copia del programa de cómputo. El inciso (d) no se aplicará cuando la copia del programa de computo no constituya en sí misma un objeto esencial de la renta. Cada una de las partes dispondrá que la introducción del original o de una copia del programa de cómputo en el mercado, con el consentimiento del titular del derecho, no agote el derecho de renta”
En la actualidad no resulta claro si la Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor ofrece protección al “rental right” y sí reconoce la figura del “agotamiento del derecho” aún mas, hay quienes consideran que en México podría no exstir un derecho de distribución de copias de obras protegidas por el derecho de autor, toda vez que la Ley no lo menciona en forma expresa. Sin embargo, debe tomarse en cuenta que la Constitución y la Ley reconocen al autor un derecho de uso y explotación en sentido amplio, por lo que debe concluirse que éste comprende el derecho especifico de distribución de copias de obras.
Por lo que respecta al “agotamiento del derecho”, una parte de la doctrina en México lo considera como una consecuencia natural del derecho de distribución del autor, por lo menos por lo que respecta al caso de la venta de primera mano de una copia de la obra. Sin embargo, el razonamiento expresado resulta necesariamente de la interpretación de la norma en favor de los derechos del autor, ya que la Ley no se pronuncia expresamente en el sentido de otorgar derechos de distribución y limitarlos con la venta de las copias de la obra. Por otro lado, no es claro tampoco si el agotamiento del derecho de distribución opera en caso de la renta de la copia de la obra o se restringe al caso de su venta.
Las disposiciones citadas del TLC deberán servir para resolver el problema de interpretación que se apunta. En forma adicional, la Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor será modificada para establecer en forma expresa el régimen especifico de regulación de estos derechos y limitaciones. Existen algunos aspectos que merecen esclarecimiento respecto del artículo 1705 (2) (b) y (d) del TLC. Por mencionar un ejemplo, no es clara la expresión inciso (d) no se aplicará cuando la copia del programa de cómputo no constituya en sí misma un objeto esencial de la renta.”
Dicha norma podría entenderse en forma similar al caso de los Estados Unidos en donde el U.S. Copyright Act de 1976, en la sección 106(3), establece el derecho de distribución de las obras protegidas y en la sección 109(a), la limitación de dicho derecho de distribución mediante la “first sale doctrine” (doctrina de la primera venta), que permite al dueño de una copia autorizada de la obra, “la venta  o disposición de la misma”. De esta forma, en el año de 1991, el Congreso de los Estados Unidos de América estableció una prohibición a la renta de programas de computación a cargo del dueño de la copia, si éste no cuenta con autorización del titular del derecho. Sin embargo, dicho criterio no se aplica al caso de los programas incorporados en maquinas o productos que no permitan que el usuario común y corriente los duplique.
Aún cuando el derecho norteamericano ha encontrado fórmulas jurídicas precisas y adecuadas para resolver el complejo tema de los derechos de renta mismas que al parecer adoptará nuestra Ley por virtud del TLC, cabe señalar que el Copyright Act no dado solución a un nuevo problema que deriva de la renta de productos que contienen programas de computación, tales como videojuegos contenidos en discos de tipo CD-1 y CD-ROM. En tal virtud, el reto para el derecho mexicano es doble, ya que se tendrá que resolver el problema general del derecho de renta de programas de computación, además de los aspectos más concretos como el caso de los videojuegos a base de programas y materializados en medios digitales



Nadie con excepción del titular de los derechos de autor sobre programas de computación está facultado para reproducirlos, usarlos o comercializarlos salvo que se cuente con una licencia o autorización. Existen muchas formas de licencias, dependiendo del producto de que se trate. Sin embargo, a las más comunes se les conoce corno licencia tipo “shrink shrap” y se encuentran en los paquetes de programas comerciales para uso en computadoras personales. Dichas licencias constituyen autorizaciones para realizar el número de copias que éstas establezcan específicamente. Normalmente, cada paquete de programa de aplicación contiene una licencia “monousuaria”, que como su nombre indica, permite la instalación del programa en el CPU (Central Procesing Unit) de una computadora personal. Para el caso de instalaciones adicionales debe pagarse un precio extra toda vez que esta realiza una segunda copia del programa. Esta práctica varía dependiendo de la política comercial de cada productor o fabricante de software, sin embargo hay algunos que llaman a estas licencias “FULL PACKAGE” o “LICENSE PACKAGE”.
Finalmente, existen casos en los que algunas empresas, por lo general aquellas que operan más de 100 PC’s, requieren de licencias que les permitan el uso múltiple del programa. En esos casos se puede intentar una “LICENCIA CORPORATIVA”, que se negocia directamente con el productor del software. Existen muy pocos casos de este tipo de licencia, en virtud de que no se ha instrumentado a fondo en nuestro país.
Por lo que respecta a programas de aplicación para uso en redes, existen paquetes especiales que contienen licencias “DE USO CONCURRENTE”, que permiten la instalación del software en el servidor de la red y el acceso del número de estaciones de trabajo que autorice dicha licencia.
De conformidad con lo mencionado con anterioridad, el usuario de cualquier tipo de programa de computación protegido por el derecho de autor está facultado legalmente para obtener una copia de respaldo de dicho programa, la cual podrá usarse en caso de problemas o desperfectos en el programa instalado en el CPU de la PC; sin embargo, esa copia de respaldo no podrá instalarse en un segundo CPU o en un diskette.


Algunas desventajas de utilizar copias no autorizadas de programas de computación en las computadoras de una empresa son:
a) Infringir la Ley;
b) El riesgo de que se destruyan archivos e información valiosa por la aparición de virus, lo cual podría afectar computadoras personales, redes y hasta la operación  automatizada de una entidad completa;
c) No se tendrá acceso a las actualizaciones del programa a precios bajos; entrenamiento; soporte técnico; documentación completa incluyendo manuales; garantía del producto.
Se llama “Software Management – a la serie de medidas que se deben tomar con el fin de establecer sistemas de control de uso y copiado interno de programas de computación. Al efecto deben considerarse los siguientes puntos:
a) Procurar Hacerse de Programas Originales.
– Determinando las necesidades de su empresa en el uso de programas de computación;
– Identificando las necesidades concretas de cada computadora, tales como localización, departamento, operador, etc., en relación con los programas de sistema operativo y aplicación que más le acomodan y convienen.
– Comprometer a la empresa en el uso de producto original;
– Establecer presupuestos realistas;
– Entregar en tiempo el programa que solicite el usuario y cuya adquisición resulte aprobada;
– Anticipar los usos y necesidades de la empresa y elaborar planes en torno a estos.
b) Para el Caso de que la Empresa este Irregular en su Base Instalada de Programas.
Debe procederse a legalizarse;
– Practicar una auditoria previa para determinar el grado de irregularidad;
– Substituir el producto no autorizado por original, utilizando el criterio “una copia original por cada CPU”, mencionado con anterioridad;
– Hacer un recuento de programas instalados con respecto a el número de CPU’s en posesión (o estaciones de trabajo en caso de red) y hacer también recuento de manuales floppies y licencias. El número de programas debe coincidir con el número de licencias. Si el saldo es negativo, deberá suprimirse y removerse el producto no autorizado e instalar producto original.
 c) Prevención de Copia Interna.
– Asegurarse que se cumplieron cabalmente los pasos a) y b),
– Comunicar en forma institucional el compromiso de que se utilice únicamente producto original en la empresa;
– Designar responsables que realicen inspecciones periodicas del uso de programas;
– Registrar internamente el producto que se adquiera;
– Realizar inspecciones y auditorias para controlar la adquisición, reproducción y uso de producto legitimo;
– Presentar documentos de responsabilidad a empleados para firma y enviar memoranda que les ilustre en el uso correcto de los programas y sus obligaciones al respecto, asimismo realizar campañas educativas en el uso de los programas;
– Si se encuentran copias no autorizadas de producto, corregir el problema de conformidad con la Ley y las medidas y políticas que adopte la empresa.

Trade related copyright infringement by hyperlinking

by Mauricio Llanes

The use of hyperlinks may be considered as a trade related copyright infringement under certain circumstances.

There are three types of hyperlinks; i) Deep linking: when a link redirects to another website where illegal works are hosted, ii) Inline linking: when a link opens directly a file that hosts a work, iii) Surface linking: when a link redirects to the home page of another website.

The first two types of links may be considered as an unauthorized use of works. In fact, in Mexico there is already a precedent in which our authorities determined a copyright infringement for the use of “deep linking”. The website that provides the links redirects to illegal websites that host works without the authorizations of the copyright or neighboring rights holder.

Such activities are considered as an act of public communication of works by making them available to the public. So it becomes necessary to have the authorization of the copyright or neighboring rights holder to use works in such a way.

This trade related copyright infringement may be confirmed by making the analysis, of such activities in light of the “three-step test” contained in the Berne Convention, which is the basis to every copyright exception.

· Certain special cases.

· Do not conflict with a normal exploitation of a work.

· Do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.

Hyperlinking is not a special case of exception, it conflicts with the normal exploitation of the work since the use of the work does not consider any kind of remuneration to the copyright owner and it prejudice the legitimate interests of the author since the original authorization to use the work was different (in most cases, the use is authorized by a restricted access).

Exceptions to hyperlinking may be legally applicable when the “three-step test” is duly completed.

Image and publicity rights in Mexico



Traditionally, the protection of names and images has been an important part of IP law in Mexico. Trademark and unfair competition law protect names and designs (including the names and likenesses of individuals) used as trademarks or service marks, or other trade symbols. Similarly, copyright law protects works of authorship, as well as the name of the persons who authored the works (moral rights of paternity). However, trademark and copyright law do not explore issues relating to the names and likenesses of individuals that go beyond the limits dictated by the general principles of IP law.


In Mexico, the Federal Civil Code protects the right to privacy. The code provides remedies against moral damage suffered by an individual as a result of illicit acts affecting his or her “sentiments, affections, beliefs, decorum, honour, reputation, private life, configuration or physical aspects, or the opinion that others have of [him or her]”. A defendant that is found liable for moral damages must indemnify the plaintiff, whether or not the defendant is also found liable for objective, contractual or extra-contractual damages.
In addition, the Copyright Law provides for a limited right of publicity – generally called the right of image – which protects the physical likeness of individuals, as captured in photographs, paintings or drawings. In accordance with the law, all individuals (not just celebrities) can oppose the use of their image. This right is patrimonial in nature; it can be assigned to third parties or disposed of. Curiously, the law does not define the terms of protection of this right and does not seem to provide any time limits. However, the law provides for an administrative cause of action against unauthorized use of an individual’s image. Even though the term ‘image’ is not defined, the law suggests that the word ‘image’ means ‘portrait’.


The courts have considered the issue of moral damage under the Federal Civil Code, as well as the right of image under the Copyright Law. In Solís v Radiomovil Dipsa SA de CV (Case 642/99), the plaintiff was hired by the defendant to record four short phrases for use as instructions or commands in connection with mobile phones. The plaintiff later filed a civil action against the defendant seeking $5 million in damages based on:
  • the performing artist’s rights under the Copyright Law; and
  • the moral damage provision of the Federal Civil Code.
The plaintiff requested the payment of royalties for the public performance of her vocal ‘interpretations’. In addition, the plaintiff argued that the defendant had used the recordings of her voice in an attempt to exploit her personal rights under the Federal Civil Code. The court ruled in favour of the defendant on the following grounds, among others:
  • The phrases recorded by the plaintiff were not a work of authorship within the meaning of the Copyright Law. Therefore, the plaintiff was not considered to be an artist.
  • Even assuming that the plaintiff was the performer of a work, she received full consideration for the services rendered.
  • The plaintiff was unable to show that, by using the recordings of her voice, the defendant had infringed her moral rights.


The federal district’s local congress passed legislation to protect the personalities and likenesses of individuals, effective as of 2006. The new statute is entitled the Law on Civil Liability for the Protection of the Right to Private Life, Honour and Image in the Federal District (the Privacy Law). The statute introduced a systematized set of norms to protect the names, images, honour and intimacy of individuals, thereby improving the existing regime under the Federal Civil Code.
The Privacy Law aims to strike a balance between privacy and personality rights on the one hand, and the freedom of speech, the right to information and the right to inform on the other. Personality rights include:
  • the right to privacy, honour and likeness (which applies to individuals residing in the federal district); and
  • the right to keep one’s private life secret.
Personality rights apply mainly to individuals, but have also been found to apply to corporations in certain cases.
The right to privacy is closely associated with the notion of ‘private life’. Under the law, ‘private life’ refers to all activities that are not destined to be public and that have no direct impact on society. Third parties should not have access to the sphere of privacy of individuals (in particular, their families, domiciles, possessions and activities performed in private). The right to intimacy, which is linked to the right to privacy, protects activities carried out in private. Under the law, it is prohibited to publish private data without consent or by illegal means.
The Privacy Law introduced the concept of ‘honour’, which is very technical and difficult to apply in practice. The law defines ‘honour’ as the evaluation of an individual’s socio-ethnic status based on his or her reputation or fame. The notion of honour also includes the individual’s ‘estimable feelings’.
Under the law, the publication of disparaging or offensive information is allowed in the context of literary, artistic, scientific or professional criticism, or when such publication is necessary to comply with a duty or to enforce a right, provided that such information is not published for offensive purposes. However, the law prohibits the publication of insulting or insidious information that causes unjustified damage to the honour or dignity of a person.
In contrast to the Copyright Law, the Privacy Law protects a person’s likeness or image from a personal standpoint. ‘Likeness’ is defined as the reproduction in a tangible medium of a person’s identifiable physical features. Under the law, individuals have rights over their own image and, accordingly, may authorize or prohibit the ‘fixation’ or ‘divulgation’ of their image. ‘Tangible media’ include films, pictures and photographs. An individual whose image has been published without his or her consent, thereby damaging his or her reputation, may file suit before the competent local court in the federal district in order to obtain:
  • the cessation of the abusive or unfair practice; and
  • an award of damages.
However, the law does not protect:
  • celebrities pictured during public ceremonies or events, in places that are open to the public or on occasions that are of public interest;
  • celebrities whose likenesses are used in cartoons and sketches, among other things, in accordance with ‘social usage’ (this concept is ambiguous and is not defined in the statute); and
  • individuals who appear by accident in pictures of a public event or in the news.
An individual whose rights have been infringed may file a judicial action seeking moral damages. The plaintiff has the burden of proving infringement and, accordingly, must show that:
  • his or her rights under the Privacy Law have been infringed;
  • such infringement has resulted from an illicit act; and
  • there is a causal relationship between both events.
The court will assess:
  • the acts allegedly committed by the defendant;
  • the personal conditions of the plaintiff (eg, age and social status); and
  • the intent to inflict damage.
Such actions must be filed within two years of the date on which the violation occurred. If found guilty, the defendant will be required to publish the decision and bear the costs of the plaintiff. The medium in which the court’s decision is published must be the same as that in which the infringing information was communicated.
If it is not possible to publish the decision, the court will order the defendant to pay a fine not exceeding $1,600. Should the offence be repeated or continue, the court may impose a further fine of up to an additional 50%. Breach of the Privacy Law cannot be punished with imprisonment.
First-instance court decisions may be appealed. Appeal decisions may also be appealed by virtue of an amparo claim (ie, a constitutional proceeding intended to protect a citizen’s constitutional rights).
Chapter III of the Privacy Law sets forth rules for public servants, who are not entitled to rely on the rights provided by the law, unless they can demonstrate the existence of ‘effective malice’ on the part of the defendant. However, the law does not define this concept, merely stating that ‘effective malice’ occurs where:
  • the defendant knowingly disclosed false information;
  • the defendant disclosed information without checking whether it was true or false; or
  • the defendant disclosed information with the sole purpose of causing harm or damage.
The legislature included this exemption on the grounds that the activities of public servants are carried out mainly in public places and are of public interest.


Despite its limitations, the Privacy Law has improved the former civil law regime. The civil law theory of ‘moral damage’ has been enhanced by a new set of legal rules which impose certain restrictions on the right to free speech. The Privacy Law also helps to differentiate between the use of an individual’s likeness from a personal and from a commercial angle, the latter being governed by the provisions of the Copyright Law. However, the legislature must now address the inconsistencies and ambiguities of the publicity rights system under the Copyright Law.

Understanding reserva rights

Reserva is an exclusive patrimonial right to authorize the use of titles of publications or broadcasts, names of artists or artistic groups, characters of fictitious or human nature, or so-called publicity promotions. By virtue of reservas, right holders can authorize or prohibit third parties from copying or imitating titles, names, characters or promotions (collectively referred to as the “rights”). Secondly, right holders can authorize or prevent the distribution of copies or imitations of the rights used in any tangible form or their public performance by any media, such as broadcasting or digital networks. Thirdly, reserva rights entitle their holders to either authorize or prevent the rights from being modified or transformed. The exclusive right to authorize or prevent can be assigned or licensed.
The Instituto Nacional del Derecho de Autor (INDAUTOR) is the competent authority to grant reservas. For that purpose, it keeps a docket system and follows an ad hoc administrative proceeding. Mexican Copyright Law sets the requirements and conditions for granting reservas.
The following is a description of the four categories of reserva rights:
  1. Titles of publications or broadcasts. In general terms, titles identify literary or artistic works and act as an intermediary between the author and the public. Titles communicate or describe the content of works and have the ability to attract public attention to the work. Original titles applied to publications or broadcast can be the subject of reservas, but not the title of a work in general. In Mexico, the publishing or broadcasting industries – commercial or non-commercial industries without exclusion – seek ad hoc protection of titles, based on originality or other cultural standards. Banal or non-original titles are not afforded protection. The threshold is rather different from other forms by which commercial titles can be protected, such as trade mark rights.
  2. Artistic names. An artist is anybody performing art or artistic activities and may include artistic interpreters, performers and authors of artistic works. The criterion to afford reservas to artistic names is similar to that of titles.
  3. Characters of fictitious or human nature. Characters are those derived from the capacity of humans to represent, describe or imitate people, animals or imaginary beings. Characters are part of literary or artistic works but can sometimes be subtracted from the works. The Copyright Law has set a broad standard for protecting characters, as the standard is their physical and psychological characteristics or profile. Character reserva is broader in scope than trade mark rights, restricted to notions as distinctiveness and confusing similarity and to use of symbols in trade.
  4. Publicity Promotions. The Copyright Law defines publicity promotions as “mechanisms” that are “novel”, by which “goods or services are “promoted and offered”, with the incentive to provide to the public and “additional” good or service in more “favorable” conditions than those “prevailing” in a given “market”. The notion of publicity promotions is ambiguous and the applicable standards so high and difficult to fulfil, that the figure has mostly fallen into disuse.