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Amendments to Law of Copyright and Related Rights in Guatemala

The past November 2nd of this year, the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala issued the Decree number 21-2018, through which the Law of Copyright and Related Rights, Decree number 33-98 is amended.

The Law of Copyright and Related Rights regulates the rights enjoyed by the following persons: Authors, of literary or artistic works, performers, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organizations, as indicated in Article 1 of the aforementioned law. The main purpose pursued by the Law is to ensure that any of the persons previously mentioned, enjoy the moral and economic rights for their works, namely: the paternity, integrity and exploitation of the work.

These amendments are directly linked to the economic or pecuniary right, as it is also known. This right gives the copyright owner, among other faculties, to authorize or prohibit the use and exploitation of their work by third parties, in addition, to receive remuneration for the exploitation of their work.

However, there are limitations to this right; for in Article 63 of the law, there are established circumstances under which communication of works is permitted without the need for authorization by the author and, therefore, without the requirement of payment. This article, before the amendments, regulated three assumptions, which are summarized below:

  1. The communication of the work in an exclusively domestic environment.
  2. Use of the work exclusively for didactic purposes.
  3. In judicial or administrative practices.

However, derived from the obligation contracted by the State of Guatemala, when ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty for people with visual disabilities, the following assumptions were added:

  1. a) The reproduction and distribution of accessible copies for blind people, with low vision or other limitations to access a printed text, if the text is distributed and reproduced by authorized entities.
  2. b) Distribution of encrypted or protected materials by any system, which will be made available in a single database at a national level, by authorized entities.

Consequently, these reforms are intended to benefit those people who are unable or have difficulty reading conventional printed materials. Therefore, authorized entities can reproduce and distribute works protected by copyright, in an alternative format without authorization from the owner and without having to pay for it.

The modifications to the Regulation of the Law are still pending. However, the amendments have already entered into force.

Elizabeth Flores Barrios
García & Bodán