Chilean Miner Copyrights Note Announcing Trapped Miners Were OK

from the copyright-gone-mad dept

Reader Matt Jones points us to the news of the latest in copyright insanity. It turns out that one of the miners, Jose Ojeda, who was trapped in the Chilean mine had sent a note up, reading “Estamos bien en el refugio los 33” (“We are okay in the refuge, the 33 of us”). That note was found 17 days after the mine collapsed, and is what gave people hope that they’d eventually be able to rescue the miners, as they obviously did quite some time later. The note was a sign of hope and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera started handing out copies of the note to various people, such as the British Queen and prime minister while he was visiting. Apparently, a writer in Chile was somehow offended by this and registered the copyright on the note for Ojeda. Now that the miner is safe, he’s demanding the note back, while Pinera is claiming that it’s a part of national heritage.

All I can think is that this is yet another sign of just how ridiculous copyright law has become in the eyes of most people. They really do think it’s all about “owning” words. Copyright is to create incentives for creation — and I don’t think it helped give Ojeda the incentive for creation. I’m not sure how Chile’s copyright law works, but even if it has moral rights (requiring attribution of authorship), again, I don’t believe anyone here is trying to pass off the note as being written by anyone but Ojeda. Furthermore, is there really any “creative” element to the note that should be deserving of copyright protection? This is just blatant “ownership” culture, where a note that was used to give the world hope is now being fought over using a silly law that should have nothing to do with it.

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Comments on “Chilean Miner Copyrights Note Announcing Trapped Miners Were OK”

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Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Story = $

So some writer, at the beginning of fiasco before the miners were saved, was already thinking of what a great story this would make and how much money he could make off of it.

Huneeus, the writer said, “This phrase is a work of art,” he said, “and one couldn’t choose better words. Using the brain is a way of making money.”

Anybody else sick of the Chilean miner story yet?

Anonymous Coward says:

You seem to be confusing copyright with property right. Whether or not he’s entitled to get back the piece of paper has nothing to do with copyright, which, of course, is a right to make copies. The original, the artifact, is personal property, and who owns is would depend on aspects of Chilean law I don’t know the details of. (Think of baseballs hit into the stands.)

As for the contents of the note itself, U.S. law (and, given the Berne Convention, I’m pretty confident Chilean law too) would not extend any rights to the author of the note, to limit copying or anything else. The importance of the words aren’t relevant–the work has to support at least some measure of creativity beyond simple utility. The contents of note, from a copyright standpoint, are not much different than a shopping list or phone message, which are clearly not within the subject matter of copyright.

That someone registered the contents of the note is irrelevant. People register stuff all the time that copyright doesn’t actually support–if it ever came to a legal challenge, that is. The Copyright Office doesn’t review for originality, creativity, and the other elements required to sustain a copyright if challenged.

If’s fine (and correct) to be outraged about the state of copyright and efforts to abuse the law to extract benefits that the law isn’t meant to protect.

But that doesn’t appear to be what this story is about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The news articles suggest that the copyright exist in the sentence itself, not simply the note. For example, the man who registered it specifically says that his phrasing is “art”, etc. I’d like to look at the actual registration to see if the copyright is supposedly for the physical drawing of the note or for the sentence itself.

Either way, I would think that it would fail the requirements under Chilean copyright law to be a work of “inteligencia”. The threshold is much lower under Chilean (and Berne which barely defines anything) law than US law, though, it would seem.

out_of_the_blue says:

"Copyright is to create incentives for creation" -- WRONG.

Copyright is to reward creation and make it possible.

Incentive is usually a mysterious personal alchemy, but *can* be in hopes of mere money, or even externally imposed: Let’s send Mike down that hole and not let him come back up until he’s written a truly masterful novel at least as long as War And Peace.

ntroncos (profile) says:

Chilean Law

Ok. I have to admint that our IP law has been getting very screwed up (thak you USA).
But as the law states:

e) Las obras que fueren expropiadas por el Estado,
salvo que la ley especifique un beneficiario.
Las obras del patrimonio cultural común podrán ser
utilizadas por cualquiera, siempre que se respete la
paternidad y la integridad de la obra.

Which basically translates as; when a piece is part of the cultural heritage it may be used by anybody so long the author and original piece are recognized as such.
And I think there is a pretty strong case to argue for cultural heritage in this case.

Fentex says:

Copyright is to create incentives for creation

Are you sure this is true in Chile?

You continue to appear to assumme the U.S Constitutions explanation for copyright in U.S law holds true for other nations, yet the history and evolution of copyright in other places was sometimes of censorship and government favouritism.

Your argument may be true of the U.S, but making reference to actions bound by other laws might not be so convincing.

So I wnet looking and found wikipedia has a summary of Chilean copyroght law which begins with the explaantion…

“aims to protect the economic and moral rights of Chilean authors and foreigners residing in Chile”

…which is not the U.S Constitutions claim to advance the useful arts.

ntroncos (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The wikipedia article is outdated.
Our law has recently gone through many updates. A whole bunch of them due to a free trade agreement between Chile and the USA.
It also went through an other modification pushed by the artist (really the local RIAA), where some fair use was chopped.

I went through most of the text, and the fair use and safe harbors are much much better than what is provided in the USA.

Grillo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Hi, I’m a chilean reader. And you’re right. Recently, we modify our copyright law. Before that, we had a law that regulated us since 70’s. Before that, we didn’t have any fair use or safe harbours, BUT the fair use that we have right now – even when it’s better than nothing – still has their flaws. In fact, my thesis for University was based on the new fair use.

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