27 July 2020CopyrightSarah Morgan

Mexico’s ‘unsalvageable’ copyright law threatens democracy, warns EFF

A collection of public interest organisations have claimed that Mexico’s new copyright regime is harming fundamental human rights and needs to be challenged.

A  letter signed by organisations and individuals including the Electronic Frontier Foundation claims that the new regime, which was passed as part of a package of legal reforms accompanying the between United States-Canada-Mexico Free Trade Agreement (USMCA), was passed in a “rushed process without meaningful consultation or debate”,  said EFF.

“These bills reinforce the draconian copyright system in place in Mexico, and worsen them by importing some of the most troublesome aspects of US copyright law,” said the letter.

According to the organisations, the US and Canada have far less restrictive versions of the laws just adopted by Mexico’s Congress, meaning that the US and Canadian firms enjoy a substantial competitive advantage over their Mexican counterparts.

“US and Canadian firms can make complementary products and services to those offered by Mexican firms, including repair, improvements, consumables and parts, and collect the revenues these products and services generate.

“However, Mexico’s lawmakers have tied the hands of its own industries, prohibiting them from doing the same to products from Canada and the USA, on pain of criminal sanction,” added the letter.

In particular, the letter claimed that Mexico is struggling with the ‘notice and takedown’ system — a “notoriously easy-to-abuse system of censorship based on unreviewed copyright infringement allegations”.

Mexico’s system is based on the US’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) system.

The letter said: “While this system has coincided with the expansive growth of US-based internet platforms delivering user-generated content, it has allowed for a significant amount of restrictions of legitimate speech, including political criticism. It has also opened the door for automated speech restrictions.”

Mexico’s revisions to its copyright law allegedly fail to take into account the system’s negative impacts on freedom of expression, as well as standards on content restriction based on international human rights law.

The organisations have urged Mexico’s public institutions to reject the reforms passed by Congress to reform the copyright regime and asked the National Human Rights Commission to challenge the constitutionality of these laws before the Supreme Court.

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