The Colombian Parliament is debating Bill 001 of 2012. This Bill contains provisions regarding limitation and exceptions to Copyright Law. Last 16 of April the Bill passed the second debate in the House of Representatives. Now it is pending for debate in the Senate.

This Bill contains six articles regarding limitations and exceptions. Article 1 mandates an exception for temporary copies made as part of a technological process in some specific circumstances. Article 2 mandates an exception in favor of people with sight or hearing disabilities. Article 3 mandates an exception in favor of libraries and archives allowing them to lend a work. Article 4 mandates an exception in favor of parody. Article 5 mandates an exception in favor of educational institutions allowing the public performance of a work under certain circumstances. Finally, Article 6 repeals all provisions contrary to the ones mandated by this Bill.

Some positive points can be extracted from this legal initiative. First, after the petition made by Red PaTodos,[2] this Bill is being publicly debated. This is a positive point because previous copyright bills have been enacted through processes without public discussions[3]. Second, some sectors of society other than copyright scholars have engaged in the discussion, and they have manifested their concerns regarding this bill.  For instance, radio shows and news organizations that use parody as a way to inform people or make political criticism have raised their concerns about the scope of the parody exception and its effects in limiting parody.[4] This is positive because it shows that different sectors of the society have realized the importance of copyright law in their daily activities. Third, the Colombian Parliament has the copyright law in their legislative agenda, and it has realized the importance of having a balanced copyright system.

Some concerns and discussions have been raised regarding the wording of the law, and the effects of the provisions discussed above.[5]  However, the overall problem with this legal initiative remains.  This Bill was presented shortly after the enactment of the so-called “ley Lleras 2” or law 1520, and one of its purposes is to amend or fix some issues caused by this earlier law. However, “Ley Lleras 2” or Law 1520 was struck down earlier this year by the Constitutional Court.  Nonetheless, Bill 001 2012 is still being debated. This situation creates problems within copyright law; for instance, the parliament is debating an exception regarding “temporary copies” where the current Colombian copyright law does not grant rights to the right holder over “temporary reproduction” of their work.

Moreover, the Parliament has been rushed in its debate of a Bill regarding limitations and exceptions.  Colombia still needs to implement the Colombia-U.S. FTA’s copyright provisions. These provisions mandate the granting of strong copyright protections to copyright holders. It does not seem adequate to debate an exhaustive list of exceptions and limitations when it is not clear which the rights would be.

This raises the question:  is the Parliament is wasting the opportunity to balance the copyright system? What will happen later on when the Parliament has enacted provisions regarding anti-circumvention measures, internet retransmission of TV signals and making available rights, among others? Is the Parliament going to discuss again a Bill regarding limitations and exceptions?


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