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Panama: Controversial 510 Copyright Bill Approved

Si creían que SOPAPIPACISPAACTA y la Ley SINDE eran negativas, pues esas son un detalle comparadas con el Proyecto de Ley #510 del 23 de Agosto de 2012 de la República de Panamá: “Sobre Derecho de Autor y Derechos Conexos“.

If you thought that SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA and the SINDE Law were bad, they were nothing compared to the Republic of Panama's August 2012 #510 Bill [es]: “On Copyrights and Related Rights”   

This is how blogger Chris Fawcett opened his post on Panama's new copyright bill on his blog, El blog de Chris Faw [es]. Outrage regarding this bill is coming to a boiling point on social networks and in Panama's mainstream media since, as Pepe Flores describes on technology blog Alt1040 [es], the 510 Bill “incentivizes the hunt for infringers in an implausible fashion.” Article 153 of the bill [pdf, es] establishes:

Las sumas que perciba la Dirección General de Derecho de Autor por las tasas derivadas de los servicios que preste y por las multas que aplique en ejercicio de sus facultades, serán destinadas a mejorar su infraestructura operativa y estimular el rendimiento de sus funcionarios, complementariamente a las partidas que el Presupuesto General del Estado se destinan para el funcionamiento de dicha entidad, de acuerdo con los procedimientos y principios que, para tal efecto, establezca el Órgano Ejecutivo por conducto del Ministerio del ramo, para su correcta administración y distribución.
Las sumas que correspondan a cada funcionario, no excederán del cincuenta por ciento (50%) del total de su remuneración salarial básica mensual.

The funds accrued by the General Copyright Directorate from the fees for the services it provides and the fines imposed in the exercise of its powers, will be aimed at improving its operational infrastructure and to boost the performance of its officers, complementary to the funds that the State Budget reserves for the operation of the entity, in accordance with the procedures and principles which, for said effect, establishes the Executive Body through the Ministry in question, for its proper administration and distribution.

The amounts corresponding to each official, shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the total basic salary monthly remuneration.

Chris Fawcett shares five points that have him “profoundly worried” about the 510 Bill:

Imagen contra la Ley 510 compartida en redes sociales.

Image against the 510 Bill shared on social networks.

1) La multa por violación a la propiedad intelectual la pone una “Dirección General de Derecho de Autor” (en adelante, DGDA), bajo la jurisdicción del Ministerio de Comercio e Industrias.

2) No se exige un proceso civil, sino que se impone unilateralmente según la opinión del personal de la DGDA.

3) El acusado se presume culpable, y tiene sólo 15 días para probar su inocencia (ehem… acaso no que acá en los países “democráticos” se presume siempre la inocencia?)

4) El dinero recaudado por la multa -que puede ser de hasta 100,000 dólares- NO VA AL DUEÑO DE LOS DERECHOS DE PROPIEDAD INTELECTUAL

5) El personal de la DGDA obtiene UN BONO POR IMPONER LAS MULTAS. Ese bono tiene un máximo de hasta un 50% de su salario!

1) The fine for intellectual property violations is enforced by a “General Copyright Directorate” (abbreviated DGDA), under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

2) It does not require civil proceedings, but rather is imposed unilaterally per the opinion of DGDA personnel.

3) The accused is presumed to be guilty and only has 15 days to prove his or her innocence (ahem… maybe not since here in “democratic” countries, are we not innocent until proven guilty?)

4) The money collected from the fine — which can be up to $100,000 USD — DOES NOT GO TO THE COPYRIGHT OWNER

5) The DGDA personnel get A BONUS FOR LEVYING THE FINES. This bonus can be a maximum of 50% of their salaries!

For blog Soy Panameño [es], its obvious what could happen with this law:

que la DGDA (Dirección general de derechos de autor) tendrá la libertad de monitorear torrents (legales o ilegales), los IPS de las personas solo para levantar sospechas para poder proceder con multas y generar ingresos. Aún más acosando a personas ya multadas, porque los reincidentes “pagan” el doble.

the DGDA (General Copyright Directorate) will have the freedom to monitor torrents (legal or not) and peoples’ IP addresses just to raise suspicions in order to proceed with fines and generate entries. Even more so relentlessly pursuing those already fined because repeat offenders “pay” double.

AnonymousPTYOficial published a video about “#OpLey510″ (#Op510Bill), which gathered reports from @DJArropin [es] and @Djjcnavarro [es] explaining the bill:

The bill was approved during the third debate on September 26, 2012, but still remains to be approved by President Ricardo Martinelli to come into effect. The approval occurred amidst protests by a group of national artists, as Panamá newspaper la Estrella [es] reports:

Antes de la aprobación del proyecto, un grupo de artistas nacionales protestó frente al importante órgano legislativo del Estado panameño, en oposición a que las multas puestas por faltas a le ley pasen expedítamente a la Dirección General de Derecho de Autor del Ministerio de Comercio e Industrias (MICI).

Before the bill's approval, a group of national artists protested in front of the important Panamanian State legislative body, in opposition to the fact that the fines imposed for breaking the law are expedited to the General Copyright Directorate of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MICI) .

The same newspaper also adds:

Ayer, durante la discusión del segundo debate, el ministro de Comercio e Industrias, Ricardo Quijano, manifestó que “con la implementación de esta normativa nuestro país se está modernizando dentro del contexto internacional y mundial.”

Yesterday, in the discussion during the second debate, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, declared that “with the implementation of this regulation, our country is modernizing within the international and global context.”

Panamanian netizens that oppose the bill have mobilized themselves with the hashtag #Ley510 (#510Bill) on Twitter, and have a petition online at Change.org [es] to veto the law.

Ahikar Dominguez agrees with the fight on piracy but not via the methods proposed by the bill, as he states on Cocoas.net [es]:

Ciertamente la piratería es cosa seria y hay que combatirla, al igual que las obras que nosotros creamos y con las que pretendemos lucrar (o no), pero de allí a montarle una persecución “tipo inquisición” a quienes descargan material de la web, para uso personal (aclaro) acaba con cualquier libertad los usuarios de internet en Panamá.

Piracy is a truly serious issue and we must fight against it, both with the works that we create and those from which we aim to profit (or not), but to go from there to starting an “inquisition-esque” persecution against those who download material from the Internet for personal use (to clarify) brings an end to whatever liberty Panamanian Internet users have.

The law is part of the modifications made by the Panamanian state for the free trade agreement with the United States. Pepe Flores writes about the issue on Alt1040 [es]:

Este proyecto se presentó en agosto pasado, con la finalidad de que la legislación panameña sobre propiedad intelectual fuera compatible con el tratado de libre comercio que sostienen con Estados Unidos (¿por qué no me sorprende?). Entre las propuestas que incluye, se encuentran alargar la duración del copyright a 70 años después de la muerte del autor (el mismo plazo que en Argentina o España; aún menor que los 100 años que prevé México); o la consideración de las copias temporales como infracciones.

This bill was presented last August with the hope that Panamanian legislation on intellectual property be compatible with the free trade agreement they have with the United States (why am I not surprised?). Among the proposals included is the extension of the duration of copyrights to 70 years after the author's death (the same period that Argentina or Spain has, but still less than the 100 years that Mexico expects), or the consideration of temporary copies as infractions.

The bill is about to be approved and many await demonstrations against it if and when this occurs. If President Ricardo Martinelli does not veto the bill, Panamá will have one of the most strict and controversial copyright laws on a global level.

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