The legislation affecting copyright in Mexico includes:
the Copyright Act 1996;
the 1998 Regulations to the Copyright Act;
the Industrial Property Act 1991 and reforms of 1994;
the Federal Penal Code 1931 and amendments of 1996.
the Federal Code of Administrative Proceedings 1994 and subsequent amendments;
the Federal Code of Civil Proceedings 1943; and
the Federal Code of Penal Proceedings 1931.
2 WHO ENFORCES IT?
Copyright legislation is enforced by:
the Copyright Office (INDAUTOR);
the Patent and Trademark Office (IMPI);
the civil and commercial courts; and
the General Attorney’s Office.
3 IS THERE A CENTRALISED COPYRIGHT AGENCY? IF SO, WHAT DOES THIS AGENCY DO?
The Copyright Office is in charge of:
registering works of authorship, contracts and related documentation;
organising and maintaining the copyright register;
documenting collection management organisations that have met the legal requirements to operate by collecting from users of works;
‘reservas’ to protect titles, characters or names of artists;
providing the legal means for enforcing certain forms of copyright infringement;
acting as an arbitral institution regarding disputes on copyright and neighbouring rights; and
acting as a conciliator for disputes through special proceedings.
SUBJECT MATTER AND SCOPE OF COPYRIGHT
4 WHAT TYPES OF WORKS ARE COPYRIGHTABLE?
The following types of works are copyrightable:
musical (with or without lyrics);
pictorial or drawing;
sculpture or plastic work;
caricature and cartoons;
cinematographic and other audio-visual works;
radio and television programmes;
decorative art works which include graphic and textile design; and
compilations such as encyclopedias, anthologies, and other works such as databases, but only if such works are considered to be an intellectual creation.
5 WHAT TYPES OF RIGHTS ARE COVERED BY COPYRIGHT?
The following types of rights are covered by copyright:
patrimonial rights (ie, reproduction, distribution, public performance and transformation);
moral rights (ie, ownership and integrity); and
remuneration rights (ie, the resale right known as droit de suite; exploitation of audio-visual works; and public performance of works of authorship when patrimonial rights have been assigned).
6 WHAT MAY NOT BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT?
The following may not be protected by copyright:
ideas, formulae, solutions, concepts, methods, systems, principles, discoveries, processes or inventions of any kind;
industrial or commercial exploitation of the ideas contained in works;
schemes, plans or rules for the making of mental acts, games or business;
letters, digits or isolated colours, except where they are stylized to such an extent that they become original designs;
names and titles or isolated phrases;
blank formats or formulae containing any type of information, as well as their instructions;
reproduction or imitations, without authorisation, of shields, flags or emblems of any country, state, municipality or equivalent political division, denominations, initials, symbols or emblems of international government organisations, or any government or other organisation officially recognised, as well as the verbal description of them;
legislative, regulatory, administrative or judicial texts, as well as their official translations;
informative content of news; and
information in common use such as proverbs, sayings, legends, facts, calendars and metric scales.
7 DO THE DOCTRINES OF ‘FAIR USE’ OR ‘FAIR DEALING’ EXIST? IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE. IF NOT, PLEASE DESCRIBE ANY COMPARABLE LIMITATIONS.
The doctrines of ‘fair use’ or ‘fair dealing’ do not exist as such in Mexican law. The comparable provisions for copyright limitations are as follows:
LIMITATIONS FOR REPRODUCTION RIGHTS
quotation of texts, provided that the amount quoted is not considered to be a simulated and substantial reproduction of the contents of the work;
reproduction of articles, photographs, illustrations and comment referring to current events, published in the press or communicated by radio or television, or any other medium of communication, if this has not been expressly prohibited by the owner of the rights;
reproduction of parts of the work for the purposes of scientific, literary or artistic criticism or research;
reproduction of a literary or artistic work, in a single copy, for the personal and private use of the person doing it, and without a financial purpose. Legal entities may not benefit from this provision unless they are an educational or research establishment or their work is not for commercial purposes;
production of a single copy by an archive or a library, for reasons of security and preservation, if the work is out of circulation, no longer catalogued and there is a possibility that it will disappear;
reproduction for use as evidence in judicial or administrative proceedings; and
reproduction, communication and distribution by means of drawings, paintings, photographs and audio-visual processes of works that are on display or visible in public places.
LIMITATIONS FOR PUBLIC PERFORMANCE AND OTHER RIGHTS
Use of literary and artistic works in shops or establishments open to the public, trading copies of the said works, provided that there is no admission fee and that the performance does not extend outside the place where the sale is made and serves the sole purpose of promoting the sale of copies of the works.
Ephemeral recordings are subject to the following conditions:
transmission shall take place within an agreed period;
for the purposes of the recording, it will not be possible to make a related or simultaneous broadcast or communication; and
the recording may only be broadcast once.
ARCHITECTURAL WORKS AND WORKS OF APPLIED ART
The author of a work of architecture may not prevent the owner of the said work from making alterations, but he or she shall have the right to prohibit his or her name from being associated with the altered work.
The rights of artists, interpreters and performers, audio and video producers, or broadcasting organisations, are not infringed by the use of their acts, recordings or broadcasts, when such works are reproduced, communicated and distributed by drawings, paintings, photographs and audio-visual means, visible from public places provided that:
no direct economic advantage is pursued; and
only brief fragments are used as information for current events.
8 WHAT ARE THE STANDARDS USED IN DETERMINING WHETHER A PARTICULAR USE IS FAIR?
The law does not define any standards to determine fair use.
Limitations are listed and interpreted literally.
9 ARE ARCHITECTURAL WORKS PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT? HOW?
Architectural works are copyrightable under the law. Plans are protected together with the physical constructions arising from the plans. The architectural works protected include all aspects that can be attributed as original to the author or architect designer. The law imposes one restriction: the author of an architectural work may not prevent the owner of the physical construction from making modifications to it. However, the author will have the right to refuse his or her name being associated with the modified work.
10 ARE PERFORMANCE RIGHTS COVERED BY COPYRIGHT? IF SO, HOW?
Public performance rights are covered by the Copyright Act. They are part of the bundle of patrimonial copyright rights, and if transferred, they may also be a remuneration right.
11 ARE ‘NEIGHBOURING RIGHTS’ RECOGNISED? IF SO, HOW?
Mexico is a member of the Rome Convention and accordingly protects the rights of artistic performers, audio recording producers and broadcast entities. In addition, book publishers and video producers are entitled to related rights as well.
12 ARE MORAL RIGHTS (DROIT MORAL) RECOGNISED? IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE?
The Copyright Act protects moral rights of paternity, integrity, divulgation and withdrawal. Moral rights are personal rights that cannot be renounced, pledged or transmitted and that are imprescriptible.
13 IS THERE A REQUIREMENT OF COPYRIGHT NOTICE? IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE.
There is no requirement of copyright notice.
14 WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES FOR FAILURE TO DISPLAY A COPYRIGHT NOTICE?
There are no consequences for failure to display a copyright notice although the copyright law indicates that some sort of administrative infringements could arise.
15 IS THERE A REQUIREMENT OF COPYRIGHT DEPOSIT? IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE.
There is no requirement of copyright deposit.
16 WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES FOR FAILURE TO MAKE A COPYRIGHT DEPOSIT?
There are no consequences for failure to make a copyright notice. Ownership in copyright disputes can be proved by documentary or other evidence showing that the author created the work.
17 IS THERE A SYSTEM FOR COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION? IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE.
Works can be registered with the Copyright Office. Registration is not compulsory and copyright protection does not depend on registration. However, registration can represent reliable evidence in court since it represents prima facie evidence of copyright ownership.
18 IS COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION MANDATORY? IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE.
Copyright registration is not mandatory.
19 HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR A COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION?
To register a copyright, a person must file a simple application with two samples of the work and a fee. Particular information about contributors or creators is normally requested by the Copyright Office for commissioned works.
20 WHAT ARE THE FEES TO APPLY FOR A COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION?
The application fee for copyright registration is approximately US$13.
21 WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES FOR FAILURE TO REGISTER A COPYRIGHTED WORK?
There are no consequences for failure to register a copyrighted work. Ownership in copyright disputes may be proved by something else showing that the author created the work.
OWNERSHIP AND TRANSFER
22 WHO IS THE OWNER OF A COPYRIGHTED WORK?
Generally, an author would be the first owner of the copyrighted work. Exceptions include:
commissioned works – the entity asking for the work becomes the owner ab initio; and
audio-visual works – the law regards the producer as the copyright owner.
23 MAY AN EMPLOYER OWN A COPYRIGHTED WORK MADE BY AN EMPLOYEE, AND IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES?
Copyright ownership shall vest in the employer when parties have executed a labour agreement in writing and the same has a special work-for-hire clause. If the parties have signed a labour agreement without this special clause, copyright shall be split in equal shares. If parties have not signed a labour agreement, rights shall vest in the employee.
24 MAY A HIRING PARTY OWN A COPYRIGHTED WORK MADE BY AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, AND, IF SO, IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES?
A hiring party may own the rights on a copyrighted work made by an independent contractor. Requirements are less strict than in the case of an employee’s works. It would be sufficient to show that a work has been commissioned and that there has been remuneration. If the two conditions are met, copyright ownership shall revert to the party that hired the work.
25 MAY A COPYRIGHTED WORK BE CO-OWNED? IF SO, IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES?
Works can be co-authored if they are jointly created by two or more authors, or else co-owned.
The Copyright Law sets forth rules in connection with the co-authorship of works, to distinguish between ‘collaborative’ works (authored jointly by two or more individuals) and ‘collective’ works (authored jointly by two or more individuals under the initiative of another individual or a corporation). Rules state as well that the rights of co-authors shall be shared in equal parts unless otherwise agreed.
Likewise, the Copyright Law sets forth rules in connection with co-ownership of works, including initial ownership rules, whether by authorship or work for hire or ownership by transfer. In keeping with this, physical individuals or corporations can be patrimonial rights-owners or co-owners.
26 MAY RIGHTS BE TRANSFERRED? IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES?
Patrimonial rights can be transferred. Generally, transfers are not permanent. The law provides for limitations on transfers.
27 MAY RIGHTS BE LICENSED?
Patrimonial rights may be licensed.
28 ARE THERE COMPULSORY LICENSED? WHAT ARE THEY?
The publication and translation of literary or artistic works, which are required for the development of science and culture and national education, may be the subject of a compulsory licence. This process is theoretically possible, but has never been done and a system would need to be put in place to do it.
29 ARE LICENCES ADMINISTERED BY PERFORMING RIGHTS SOCIETIES? IF SO, HOW?
In principle, licences are administered by the copyright or related rights-holders. Performing rights societies can administer them if copyright or related rights-holders become members thereof and grant a formal mandate to them to collect royalties or remuneration from users, by virtue of licences or otherwise.
30 IS THERE ANY PROVISION FOR THE TERMINATION OF TRANSFERS OF RIGHTS?
There is provision for the termination of the transfer of copyright rights. Under the law, transfers are temporary and are subject to certain rules. Transfers are only valid for periods ranging between five and 15 years. A transfer in excess of 15 years is only valid in particular circumstances relating to the investment in the production of a work.
31 CAN DOCUMENTS EVIDENCING TRANSFERS AND OTHER TRANSACTIONS BE RECORDED WITH A GOVERNMENT AGENCY? IF SO, WITH WHICH AGENCY AND HOW?
Documents evidencing transfers and other transactions can be recorded with the Copyright Office by way of an application or request.
DURATION OF COPYRIGHT
32 WHEN DOES COPYRIGHT PROTECTION BEGIN?
Copyright protection begins from the moment the work is created.
33 HOW LONG DOES COPYRIGHT PROTECTION LAST?
Protection for patrimonial rights lasts throughout the lifetime of the author (or contributor) and for 100 years following the author’s death.
34 DOES COPYRIGHT DURATION DEPEND ON WHEN A PARTICULAR WORK WAS CREATED OR PUBLISHED?
Copyright duration depends on when the work was authored and fixed into a tangible form of expression.
35 DO TERMS OF COPYRIGHT HAVE TO BE RENEWED? HOW?
Terms of copyright do not have to be renewed.
COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT AND REMEDIES
36 WHAT CONSTITUTES COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT?
The law categorises infringement into the following:
The following behaviour constitutes an infringement of copyright:
an editor, entrepreneur, producer, employer, broadcasting organisation or licensee entering into a contract with the objective of transmitting copyright in violation of the present law;
infringement by the licensee of the terms of the compulsory licensing that would have been declared in article 146 of the present law;
presenting oneself as a collective representation society without having obtained the corresponding registration with the Copyright Office;
being the administrator of a collective representation society and failing without just cause to provide the Copyright Office with the reports and documents referred to in law;
not inserting in a published work the requirements referred to in law;
falsely omitting or inserting the data referred to in law in an edition;
falsely omitting or inserting the requirements referred to in law in an edition;
not inserting in an audio recording the requirements referred to in law;
publishing a work, while being authorised to do so, without mentioning in it the name of the author, translator, compiler, adapter or arranger;
publishing a work, while being authorised to do so, which damages the reputation of the author as such and, if applicable, of the translator, compiler, arranger or adapter;
publishing works performed in official service without authorisation of the federation, states or municipality;
using fraudulently in a work a title that induces confusion with another work published earlier;
fixing, representing, publishing or performing any communication or using in any form, a literary and artistic work, protected in the law, without mentioning the community or ethnicity, or the region of Mexico where it originates; and
any other infringement derived from the interpretation of the Copyright Act and its rules.
COMMERCIAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENTS
The following behaviour constitutes an infringement in trade when performed with direct or indirect commercial purposes:
communicating or publicly using a work protected by any means and in any form without the previous and explicit authorisation of the author, their legitimate heirs or the holder of the author’s proprietary equity;
using the image of a person without his or her authorisation or that of his or her successors;
producing, reproducing, storing, distributing, transporting or commercialising copies of works, audio or video recordings, or books, protected by copyright or related rights, without the authorisation of the respective holders in terms of this law;
offering for sale, storing, transporting or making available works protected by this law that have been deformed, modified or mutilated without authorisation of the holder of the copyright;
importing, selling, leasing or performing any act that allows or facilitates possession of a device or system the purpose of which is to deactivate the protective electronic devices of a computer program;
rebroadcasting, fixing, reproducing and disseminating to the public the programmes of a broadcasting organisation without the organisation’s authorisation;
using, reproducing or exploiting a protected reservation of rights or a computer program without the consent of the holder;
using or exploiting a name, title, denomination, physical or psychological characteristics or operation characteristics in such a way that they induce error or confusion with a protected reservation of rights;
using literary and artistic works protected by chapter III, title VII of the Copyright Law in violation of that contained in article 158; and
all other infringements as provided for by the law that imply a commercial or industrial behaviour relating to the works protected by this law.
37 WHAT REMEDIES ARE AVAILABLE AGAINST A COPYRIGHT INFRINGER?
The following remedies are available for copyright infringement:
administrative orders (time, shutdown of establishments or premises);
civil remedies (damages); and
criminal sanctions (imprisonment or fines).
38 IS THERE A TIME LIMIT FOR SEEKING REMEDIES?
There is a statute of limitations for civil and criminal remedies.
39 ARE MONETARY DAMAGES AVAILABLE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT?
Monetary damages are available for copyright infringement. The applicable rule is that 40 per cent of the value of the infringing products will be awarded. The 40 per cent rule represents a minimum standard provision.
40 ARE ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS AVAILABLE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT? IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES?
Attorneys’ fees and costs are available for copyright infringement but they are seldom recovered.
41 ARE THERE CRIMINAL COPYRIGHT PROVISIONS? WHAT ARE THEY?
Imprisonment of between six months and six years, and a fine, will be imposed on:
any person that deals in any form with free textbooks distributed by the Public Education Department;
an editor, producer or recorder that knowingly produces more copies of a work protected by federal copyright law than authorised by the holder of the rights; or
any person that uses in a fraudulent manner, with commercial purposes and without the corresponding authorisation, works protected by federal copyright law.
Up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine will be imposed on:
any person that produces, reproduces, introduces to the country, stores, transports, distributes, sells or leases copies of works, audio or video recordings, or books protected by federal copyright law, in a fraudulent way, for commercial purposes, and without the authorisation from the holder of the copyright or related rights;
any person that knowingly contributes in any way to or provides raw materials or consumables destined for the production or reproduction of works, audio or video recordings, or books referred to in the previous paragraph; or
any person that manufactures for commercial purposes a device or system whose purpose is to deactivate the protective electronic devices of a computer program.
Imprisonment of between six months and six years, and a fine, will be imposed on any person that sells copies of works, audio or video recordings or books to any final consumer in a public place and in a fraudulent manner for commercial purposes. If the sale takes place in a commercial establishment or in a permanent and organised manner, the infringer will be subject to sanction under the penal code.
Imprisonment of between six months and two years, or a fine will be imposed on whoever, knowingly and without right, exploits an artistic performance for commercial purposes.
Imprisonment of between six months and four years, and a fine will be imposed on:
any person that manufactures, imports, sells or leases a device or system to decode a coded satellite signal or programme carrier, without authorisation of the legitimate distributor of said signal; and
any person that performs any act for commercial purposes with the intention of decoding a coded satellite signal or programme-carrier, without authorisation of the legitimate distributor of said signal.
42 IS ONLINE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT ACTIONABLE?
Methods exist for pursuing online copyright infringement. The law provides copyright owners with a general right to pursue infringers regardless of the medium they employ. Although not expressly provided for in the law, the internet is certainly included. Likewise the principles of the WIPO treaties, including a right of access and the redefinition of the terms ‘fixation’ and ‘reproduction’ in a digital environment, have been implemented in law.
43 HOW MAY COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BE PREVENTED?
Copyright infringement is always hard to prevent. However, copyright law recognises and protects against infringements relating to technology protection.
RELATIONSHIP TO FOREIGN RIGHTS
44 WHICH INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT CONVENTIONS DOES YOUR COUNTRY BELONG TO?
Mexico belongs to most multinational treaties on copyright and neighbouring rights. It is also a member of a number of bilateral agreements, in particular on free trade and those dealing with copyright and neighbouring rights issues.
45 WHAT OBLIGATIONS ARE IMPOSED BY YOUR COUNTRY’S MEMBERSHIP OF INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT CONVENTIONS?
The nature of the obligations imposed depends on the type of treaty. For example, a treaty may be based on the principles of reciprocity, minimum standards, national treatment, etc. Mexico has executed copyright treaties without reservation or restrictions and, on the whole, has implemented them into domestic law. In any event, treaties are self-applicable under the Mexican Constitution and would not strictly require implementation. Accordingly, treaty provisions are valid to fill the gaps in local law. Treaty provisions prevail in the event of conflict with provisions in local laws.
UPDATE AND TRENDS
ONGOING LITIGATION HAS RAISED A NUMBER OF QUESTIONS:
THE ISSUE OF DISTRIBUTION, AND IN PARTICULAR RENTAL RIGHTS IN AUDIO-VISUAL WORKS, HAS BEEN TESTED BEFORE THE MEXICAN COURTS. THE QUESTION IS WHEN DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS BECOME EXHAUSTED AND IF RENTAL RIGHTS EXIST AT ALL.
THE POWER AND CAPACITY OF PERFORMANCE OR COLLECTING SOCIETIES HAS BEEN CHALLENGED, IN CASES WHERE THEY MIGHT HAVE NOT FULFILLED THE REQUIREMENTS AND FORMALITIES THAT THEY NEED TO COMPLY WITH TO BE ABLE TO REPRESENT COPYRIGHT OR RELATED RIGHTS-OWNERS WITH THE USERS OF WORKS, AND TO COLLECT ROYALTIES FROM THEM.