Panama's Government One Step Away From Passing The 'Worst Copyright Law In History'

from the Panama's-copyright-office-also-one-step-away-from-a-new-'revenue-torrent dept

It looks as if Panama is set to pass what Andres Guadamuz (Technollama) called the "worst copyright law in history." The 510 Bill grants the Panamanian copyright office the right to pursue filesharers directly and fine them up to $100,000 USD EACH with the money flowing directly back into the copyright office in the form of bonuses for the officials. None of the money flows to the rights holders and those who have been fined can still face civil action from those holding the copyrights.

infojustice.org reports that Bill 510 has been approved by the Congress and is now awaiting approval from the executive branch. The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, seemed pleased with its passage through Congress:
[Wi]th the implementation of this new Act, our country [Panama] is being upgraded within the international and global context.
Marcela Palacia Puerta (writing for infojustice.org) queries whether the Minister's statement is correct:
Is the Minister of Commerce right? Are the international standards implemented by this Act? This Act gives extraordinary power to the administrative organism in charge of the registration, storage, monitoring and inspection of copyright, allowing it to impose fines on infringers, violating the general principles of law as “non bis in idem” and “presumption of innocence”. Can impartiality and justice lead a process of imposing fines, when the beneficiaries of the fines are the functionaries of the organism itself?
Puerta is right. No other country has given the copyright office this sort of unchecked power before. Granting itself the leeway to directly pursue infringers and add the fees collected to the bonus pool is unprecedented. To be sure, "international standards" are being implemented, many of them at the behest of the US government (itself acting at the behest of the MPAA and the US Chamber of Commerce). The worst parts of US copyright law were signed into effect late last year and Panama seems to have taken the "free trade agreement" as a jumping off point, rather than the illogical extreme it actually is.

Rather belatedly, Congressman Jose Blandon asked to make the Act public to "avoid distrust within the population about this law." Well, it's the afterthought that counts, I suppose, but transparency means allowing the public to participate well before the final step of the legislation process. At this point, the bill is two-thirds passed and any input will likely be too little, far too late.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:11am

    Panama's new copyright law is brought to you by: Pfizer, who'll be abusing this new bill within minutes upon passing as a law.

    Are we really sure yellow fever was controlled in Panama?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:21am

    This is a fair and balanced law in the same way that fox news is a fair and balanced news service, and the plague being a fair and balanced disease.

     

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      ethorad (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:27am

      Re:

      Come on, the plague was pretty fair, or at least non-discriminatory. The plague did exactly what it was meant to do - spread virulently and kill people. No hypocrisy, no lies.

      Comparisons with fox news and the copyright lobby are what gives the Black Death a bad name!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    Obviously, once this becomes law in Panama the **AA will be pushing for similar laws here in the US - so we don't "fall behind the international community"...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:06am

      Re:

      Obviously, once this becomes law in Panama the **AA will be pushing for similar laws here in the US - so we don't "fall behind the international community"...

      There's no need for that. US copyright holders will simply use Panama as a battering ram.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:21am

        Re: Re:

        By this I mean that special trade consideration will be bestowed upon countries who mount aggressive Panama-style copyright legislation.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:27am

    so actually, yet again, the USA is responsible for the people (of another country as well) getting shafted, good and proper. does anyone actually expect a single person to be accused then declared innocent, when all monies collected will go to the people making the accusations? of course not! the only difference between this and what happens at the behest of the US entertainment industries, is where the money goes. under neither scheme does anything go to the artists. had the entertainment industries used their feeble brains from day one, none of this shit would have happened at all. as it is, they have opened such a fucking great can of worms, one that they are going to be moaning about for ages now, that to put the lid back on is going to take a super-human effort from a lot of places!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    The 510 Bill grants the Panamanian copyright office the right to pursue filesharers directly and fine them up to $100,000 USD EACH

    What - no death penalty?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:51am

    Sounds like US sent a big "financial aid" over their way to make this happen, so they can use it as a role model for future ACTA/TPP-like negotiations.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:53am

    "What - no death penalty?"

    But people given the death penalty don't pay you $100,000 to collect in bonuses. Would you rather collect a giant bonus at the end of the year that could make your whole department millionaires, or kill hundreds of thousands of people to discourage others from breaking the law?

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:57am

    Could of shortened the title to...

    'Panama one step away from legalizing governmental extortion.'

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 7:59am

    Considering the average income is less than 15k a year, if an average citizen got caught downloading 20 or 30 songs, they could quite easily have to give up every cent they make for the rest of their life.

    Sound about right. Yup.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    I wonder. Don't these bad laws hurt a country's economy? If the US can pass good laws and avoid passing bad ones, the countries with good laws may form an oligarchy governing the rest of the world's economy, simply because some governments are idiots and others are not.

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:07am

    Corrupt practices anybody?

    Talk about an open door to rampant corruption. That the fines levied pass on as bonuses to those responsible for levying the fines is just incomprehensibly idiotic! Those responsible for this law should be thrown out of office and into prison for blatant corruption and lack of moral fiber!

     

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    Jason, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:23am

    Laws like this

    Leave everyone with only one recourse.

    If this passes everyone will have to delete all digital media they have and never buy/steal/use/download digital media ever again.

    With the corruption certain to ensue with making the gatekeepers the judge and jury like this bill does, over time the chances that someone will be accused (rightfully or not) of infringing approach 100%.

    This is a Wargames style ending to the content industry. With laws like this the only way to will be be to not play the game.....

     

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    gorehound (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:25am

    Our US Government strikes again !!!
    Screw You Washington DC.I will not shed a tear as I watch your Empire Crumble.

     

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    Mega1987 (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 8:55am

    so that means putting an attachment to an email into/at panama = you're under arrest? Since it's also a form of filesharing?

    Darwin's award please.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    Do they need
    (A) actual proof that
    (B) a specific individual
    (C) infringed (not fair use, authorized use)
    (D) a specific copyright work
    (E) of a specific rights owner/holder?

    Or like the US / RIAA / MPAA is the mere accusation enough to make you a lifetime slave?

    Or maybe they are even more enlightened and they don't need no mere accusation. The mere thought is enough.

     

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      crade (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 10:24am

      Re:

      Whats the difference between an accusation and the mere thought? They have to send you the fine.. Consider that an accusation.

       

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        DannyB (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 10:41am

        Re: Re:

        Maybe they just come and take the fine from you without your knowledge, and don't have to bother accusing you.

        That is a more streamlined procedure than having to accuse first, let alone have actual nuisance court proceedings and have to bother with the inconvenience of presenting evidence.

        The US already suddenly and mysteriously takes your domain name without your knowledge or consent. Why shouldn't Panama take your money to pay the fine?

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2012 @ 12:30am

      Re:

      Worse. The copyrighted work does not have to be fixed anywhere for them to pursue you.
      From Article 1: :Esa protección se reconoce con independencia del soporte material que contiene la obra y no está sometida al cumplimiento de ninguna formalidad."
      Meaning "This protection is recognized independently of the support material fixing work and it is not subject to any formality"

      Therefore they can claim you have a copy of the song fixed in your brain (the proof is that you can sing it without help). (not trying to give them ideas...).

       

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