I have had a few people ask me why this law is relevant to them, in reality it probably is not relevant to many people. It does mimic some copyright laws in the US including some of the more recent laws like the DMCA of 1998 which does add a dimension of criminal liability for certain copyright violations. It appears to eliminate the “fair use” exception which allows some limited use of copyright materials.
“Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author’s work under a four-factor balancing test.” Wikipedia
Still I doubt the new “copyright police” will hang around the copying machines at the University of Panama writing citations.
In a nutshell, the problem is the creation of new government agency that will enforce the law with fines up to $100,000 and the fact the staff of that agency can receive bonus up to 50% of their salary based on that enforcement.
This is entrepreneurial government, not the State serving the people but the State exploiting the people for financial gain. If we assume that Panama is being run as business then the government will discover that a law that would have been benign without this section becomes a profit center. Who will be the targets, perhaps Discos playing unlicensed music, bars showing movies, newspapers that don’t agree with the government line, who knows.
If this department makes money and even better if it can quiet political opposition, the lessons might be extended to other departments. The most obvious is the traffic police, just imagine if the ticket writer can glean an extra 50% of his salary for doing his job a bit more efficiently.
I do not know where this will go ,and the law would not bother me if not for the fact that this section is in the law and that it was clearly written overnight by people who know little of the realities of intellectual property. None of that would matter because it would like many laws here never be enforced except for the financial incentives being offered to employees for enforcement.
I do not know if the President has signed the bill into law, but I have no doubt that he will. No one in the government wants to stop the implementation of the US – Panama Free Trade Agreement and this law was one of the handful rushed through to comply with the US mandates for implementation. What will be most important, far more important than this law, is how that Free Trade agreement will effect the Panamanian people. I have little hope that any benefits will trickle down to them, I suspect many will be hurt but that is another topic.