Netizen Report: Chilean Copyright Bill Could Eliminate Public Domain for Video, Music

"All Rights Reserved." Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, released to public domain.

“All Rights Reserved.” Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, released to public domain.

Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

In the coming week, Chile’s Senate will vote on a proposed policy that could eliminate Internet users’ abilities to share videos and music online. The policy would amend Chile’s existing law on audiovisual artworks by forcing their creators to place all works under copyright and seek compensation (i.e. money) in exchange for their use.

The amendment stipulates that all contributors to an audiovisual performance whom the law regards as authors would be entitled to payment whenever their work is used online, even if they never asked for payment and don't want it. This would apply for the duration of the copyright, and would apply both to local and foreign works.

According to Luis Villarroel of Innovarte, a Chilean NGO dedicated to promoting balanced approaches to intellectual property, the legislation is being promoted by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers and by Chilean collecting societies. He and others have been quick to point out that the new licensing fees would all be administered by the collecting societies themselves.

It is difficult to imagine how regulators would implement such a policy in the digital realm, as websites like YouTube and Vimeo are not built to accommodate such specific requirements within a particular country’s borders. One can imagine that platforms that are entirely Creative Commons-based, such as Free Music Archive, could be rendered obsolete altogether.

If the law passes the Senate and is approved by the executive branch, Chilean creators of audiovisual works will no longer have the option of putting their works in the public domain or using open licensing alternatives, such as Creative Commons. While it’s not clear specifically how the policy would impact online platforms and communities, like YouTube and Vimeo, the law would unquestionably limit the flow of free and shared creative content on the Web.

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Ellery Roberts Biddle, Weiping Li, Hae-in Lim and Sarah Myers West contributed to this report.


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