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Copyright and Retransmission of Sports Events in El Salvador

Copyright is one of the main Intellectual Property rights, which grants to the creator of a work a set of exclusive rights over it, of a moral and economic nature. These allow the recognition of authorship and ownership, as well as the possibility of obtaining an economic benefit through its exploitation. For this, the author is legally able to authorize or prohibit its use, which may fall among other manifestations, on the diffusion by any means of sounds and images of a work and the public communication of the same, the latter being understood as the act to set the work available to the public.

The acts of broadcasting and retransmission of the work derive from public communication, and this last is defined according to the International Convention on the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, also known as the Rome Convention, as the “simultaneously broadcasting by a broadcasting organization of an emission of another broadcasting organization”, and regulated according to Article 9, section e) and 85 section a) of the Intellectual Property Law of El Salvador, which authorizes broadcasting organizations to permit or prohibit such retransmission.

The retransmission of an event, by those who are not authorized for that purpose, is considered a violation of copyright. A frequently cited example of this type of violation and that has generated discussion worldwide, is the one about sporting events. The existence of a violation of the copyright by unauthorized retransmission of sporting events, constitutes a hindrance of a very important element on the economic and reputational income. Clear evidence of illegal retransmissions are, for example in the case of football, events such as the World Cup, the European Champions League, and matches of the most important football leagues, such as Spanish, English or Italian, among others, that make millions of investments in order to negotiate: on the one hand, the rights of exclusive transmission of said events, as well as advertising guidelines where the most important trademarks of the world are announced, and in view of which the respect of the rights must be guaranteed of both forms of commercial exploitation.

What are the consequences for copyright violation and related rights in El Salvador? There are civil and criminal legal actions for violation of the economic and moral rights contained in Articles 6 and 7 of the Intellectual Property Law, which cause economic damage to the creator of a work; therefore, without prejudice to the criminal actions contained in Chapter VII of the Salvadoran Penal Code, entitled Offenses Relating to Intellectual Property, the holders of the rights conferred by the Intellectual Property Law may also demand the cessation of the violation of rights and repair of damages, according to Article 90 of the aforementioned law.

Julio C. Vargas Solano
Managing Partner
García & Bodán
El Salvador