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Latin America: A Conversation with Carolina Botero about Intellectual Property

[All links lead to Spanish language pages except when otherwise noted]

Attorney Carolina Botero spoke about the free culture movement and Creative Commons during the first conference of the recent Free Culture Congress in Quito. As one of the regional representatives of CC in Latin America, she often gives presentations and writes articles on this and other related topics.

For example, she wrote in her column not long ago in the daily Colombian newspaper El Espectador about the recent controversies surrounding collective management societies, such as the Spanish SGAE, the Peruvian APDAYC or the Colombian SAYCO, which are responsible for charging royalties on works and defending the rights of the authors that created them:

La gestión colectiva necesita cirugía reconstructiva extrema en todo el mundo, pero lo complicado es que esta conclusión la provoquen los cuestionamientos públicos de falta de transparencia (por mencionar el menor) y no la decisión del sector o la de los estados de reconocer que el desarrollo tecnológico ha significado importantes cambios que deberían reflejarse en modificaciones al derecho de autor, en esa gestión, en su estructura y seguramente en su naturaleza.

Collective rights management needs extreme reconstructive surgery throughout the world, but the tricky thing is that this conclusion is prompting public discourse on the lack of transparency (to name the very least) and not the decision of the sector or the states to recognize that technological development has meant major changes which must be reflected in modifications to the rights of the author, within that management, in its structure and surely its nature.

Later she announced on her blog a study to be conducted throughout 2012:

llevamos ya unos meses trabajando en el diseño y puesta en marcha de una investigación con otras instituciones de la región cuyo tema es precisamente gestión colectiva en América Latina. Ojalá nuestros insumos sirvan en unos meses para apoyar y enriquecer esa discusión, para repensar en la forma de gestión colectiva y en todo caso fortalecerla, pues no sólo es importante ahora sino que será mucho más importante en el futuro con un entorno tecnológico que la está moldeando en forma evidente.

We have spent several months working on the design and implementation of a study, together with other institutions in the region, precisely on the theme of collective management in Latin America. Hopefully our efforts will in a few months serve to support and enrich that discussion, to rethink the form of collective management and in any case to strengthen it, because not only is it important now but it will be much more important in the future given the technological environment that is so obviously molding it.

I took advantage of Carolina Botero's attendence at the Free Culture Congress to chat with her about various things, such as the state of Creative Commons in Latin America:

Related to Creative Commons’ presence in Latin America, Carolina Botero wrote an article [PDF] together with Alberto Cerda about online publications in the Latin American region from the perspective of the philosophy of open access and the use of those licenses, analyzing their impact, the opportunities they generate, their apparent advantages, and more.

Actualmente, las licencias Creative Commons han sido adoptadas o se encuentran en proceso de adaptación en más de 70 países, incluidos 11 de América Latina. En cada uno de ellos, han sido debidamente adecuadas a su legislación interna. En concreto, en América Latina fue Brasil el primer país que desarrolló un proyecto de este tipo. Hoy ya 9 jurisdicciones cuentan con sus propios textos (Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, México, Perú y Puerto Rico) y por lo menos 2 jurisdicciones más se encuentran en proceso de adopción (Costa Rica y Venezuela). No obstante, debemos consignar que la ausencia de la iniciativa en un determinado país no ha obstado al licenciamiento de una publicación con la licencia adoptada en otro país; así, por ejemplo, la Revista Cubana de Información en Ciencias de la Salud (ACIMED) licencia sus contenidos con una licencia Creative Commons de España.

Actually, Creative Commons licenses have been adopted or are in the process of adaptation in more than 70 countires, including 11 in Latin America. In each one of those cases, the licenses have been properly tailored to the country's own domestic legislation. Specifically, Brazil was the first country in Latin America to develop a protection such as this. Today, nine juridictions have their own licenses (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico) and at least two more jurisdictions are in the process of adopting them (Costa Rica and Venezuela). However, we should point out that the absence of an initiative in a given country has not stopped the licensing of a publication with the license of another country; so, for example, the Revista Cubana de Información en Ciencias de la Salud (ACIMED) licenses its content with a Creative Commons license in Spain.

Another topic that I brought up with Carolina Botero was how indigenous communities can make use of intellectual property, author's rights and specifically of CC, to safeguard their extensive traditional knowledge and cultural heritage, a theme that is generating various discussions and proposals among diverse communities.

The indigenous communities of Latin American, like those in Chile, are meeting to discuss, among other topics, subjects such as this:

- Analizar el estado de situación del reconocimiento de la propiedad intelectual de los conocimientos tradicionales de los pueblos indígenas. ¿Es posible un registro de derecho de propiedad intelectual público, colectivo indígenas?

-To analyze the extent of recognition of intellectual property rights of traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples. Is a registry of public intellectual property rights, an indigenous collective, possible?

Finally, I asked Carolina about the subject of piracy, and if it is, like this article on CC and piracy says: “One of the most annoying things about watching original movies, whether on DVD, Blu-Ray or in the theater, is the anti-piracy commercials. They give the impression that everyone is a delinquent [...] Moreover, they deem the sharing of copies to be among the gravest of misdeeds, even including it in the category of “‘crime.'” Carolina Botero shared this on the topic:

Another article by Carolina in El Espectador addresses the subject. The piece addresses a report [en] by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) [en] on piracy in emerging economies, or rather countries where, according to the SSRC, piracy gives citizens access to cultural products, making it a result of a defect of an industry that “protects the price structure of products in high-income countries, its natural market, while maintaining a dominant position in emerging markets as it waits for incomes there to rise.”

el informe es publicado con la licencia “Dilema del Consumidor”, como una estrategia “estética” de activismo: Si descargas el informe desde un país no desarrollado, vale US$0, si lo haces desde un país desarrollado US$8, si quieres usos especiales (como comerciales) vale US$200. Paralelamente montaron un “grupo de apoyo” en Facebook con un listado de sitios para descargar el informe sin pagar o de personas que lo envían a su correo descargándolo desde un país en desarrollo. Se busca que el consumidor se pregunte: ¿Qué haría si un producto cuesta mucho más de lo que estoy dispuesto a pagar? ¿Consideraría ser pirata? Dilema que es el que, alegan, enfrentan los consumidores de las economías emergentes.

The report is published with the “Consumer's Dilemma” license, as an esthetic strategy of activism: If you download the report from an undeveloped country, it costs US$0, but if you do it from a developed country, it costs US$8, and if you want special usage rights (such as commercial use) it costs US$200. Similarly, they have created a “support group” on Facebook with a list of sites to download the report without paying or of people that can email it who have downloaded it from a developing country. They are looking for the consumor to ask: What would I do if a product costs much more than what I am able to pay? Would I consider being a pirate? This is the dilemma, they say, that consumers face in emerging economies.

On YouTube there are two more videos that feature excerpts of Carolina Botero's presentation in the Free Culture Congress. Her papers from the same event are: Deciphering the Free Culture Movement and Accessible Culture [both PDF]. You can find more of her presentations through her Slideshare account, and by following her on Twitter: @carobotero.

Beatriz Arze and Helen Siers subtitled the videos in this post.
This post was originally published on Juan Arellano's personal blog on November 13, 2011.

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