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A new generation has come to lead the Colombian National Copyright Office. After 23 years of service, Mr. Fernando Zapata became the Executive Director of CERLALC and Juan Carlos Monroy stepped in as the new Director. Today the Office is internationally recognized, both by governments and the private sector, as home of a very fine civil law copyright doctrine that provides the market with great stability.
Monroy faces huge challenges and in the dawn of his tenure, I thought of inviting him over and bring you some of his thoughts and concerns. Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), piracy, and ISP liability are some of the issues we covered.
Lado Oscuro: What will be your priority for the first year and which will be your priorities for the mid and the long terms?
Juan Carlos Monroy: To maintain the level of excellence in the services that the Office provides to the public and the national and international recognition that it has had, mainly due to the work of Mr. Fernando Zapata during his 23 years as its Director.
In the mid and the long terms, the challenges are set forth by the public policy of the National Government, that are detailed in the Intellectual Property CONPES document, according to which IP in our country must boost productivity and create employment opportunities.
LO: Do you believe that it is needed to update the Colombian legislation with regards to the online environment and the new means of distribution of contents?
JCM: In Colombia we must address the discussion related to the adoption of anti-downloading legislation such as that that is being discussed in France, Spain and the U.K., in order to limit the illegal and massive exchange of protected works and rights or benefits. It is also urgent to regulate the liability of the Internet service providers.
However, from the perspective of the limitations and exceptions to the copyright rights, it is needed to update the currently valid laws in order to restore the balance between rights and interests, allowing copyright rights not to become an obstacle to education, access to information and culture through digital means. Such is the case, for example, of the limitations and exceptions to the copyright rights in favor of online education.
LO: Although there is neither a unique answer nor a final one, how can we address the piracy issue?
JCM: The strategy must take into account the strengthening of the law enforcement authorities along side with a legitimate offer of cultural assets through the Internet in conditions and prices affordable to Colombian consumers.
LO: Has Colombia defined if it will participate in the negotiation rounds of the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)?
JCM: Colombia is part to all of the WIPO, WTO and UNESCO international treaties that guarantee protection to the copyright rights and to their related rights. From this basis, in Colombia we have always tried to effectively fulfill the protection of those rights with regards not only to Colombian works but also to foreign works, and we are in the best disposition to study the convenience of an international instrument that strengthens the fight against piracy.
It’s worth mentioning that in Colombia we work towards the respect of copyright rights not only because it is required from us by the international treaties to which we are parties or before the requests of foreign governments that are our commercial allies, but essentially because we believe that the protection of these rights is what’s most convenient for developing countries like ours, and that it is the best way to benefit the creation of work opportunities in Colombian IP industries, that not only generate employment and wealth but that also define our cultural identity.
LO: What to do before the eternal fight between music publishers and record producers, that does not allow the development and establishment of a legal online music market in Colombia?
JCM: It is the duty of the different cultural industries, and of the actors in the value chains within such industries, to provide the market with cultural goods efficiently and at affordable prices. If the links in those chains are unable to supply the demand in these conditions, consumers will choose other products or services, or will simply switch to pirated goods.
All of Colombian cultural industries must be able to face the challenges set by the access to their assets through the Internet. If companies don’t know how to adequately supply this trend in the consumption of cultural goods, they can face their own disappearance because market laws are severe and no one should stick to obsolete business models.
LO: Given the lack of venues for live shows in Bogota, will your Office take any measures and get involved?
JCM: It is not within our scope, but we are aware of the convenience of supplying the needs of the consumers in the growing market of live shows.
LO: What’s the greatest legacy of your predecessor, Mr. Zapata?
JCM: The country owes a lot to a public server like him, for having taken this Office to the important place in which it is today. I had the luck of learning from him, as his advisor, for many years, and I belong to one of several generations of copyright attorneys that were formed under his lead. If in any way we all can serve the cause of copyright rights in our country it is in big part due to the legacy and the example of Mr. Zapata.
LO: What’s the greatest challenge before such a legacy that you received from him?
JCM: To serve this cause with as much or more commitment as him. There are many challenges: to create the conditions so that in Colombia creators can live with dignity out of their work; to have consumers of cultural goods choose to purchase them legally at the request of their conscience; that the enforcement of these rights makes the commitment with their observance a reality; that Colombian cultural industries become successful in foreign markets; that collecting societies provide the market with licensing solutions efficiently and transparently; that the users of the works are respected in their capacity as beneficiaries of the copyright rights and their related rights. The challenge is to make Colombia a country of creators and for creators and the copyright rights are the best way to achieve this.
Carlos S. Álvarez
blogladooscuro @ gmail.com
Nota: esta es mi propia traducción de la entrevista, que fue originalmente concedida en español. En su idioma original, como ya indiqué, la publicaré dentro de pocos días.