CAFTA Bill Violates Constitution

April 18, 2008

A bill to crack down on intellectual property violations is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court said earlier this month in a ruling that sets back President Oscar Arias’ free-trade agenda.

The bill, which calls for hefty fines or prison terms for copyright, trademark and patent violations, was intended to put Costa Rica in compliance with the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) said the punishment for displaying copyrighted works without the author’s permission – a $2,700 to $227,000 fine or a two-month to six-year prison term, depending on the work’s value – is disproportional and excessive.

Another problematic clause would have allowed authorities to seize pirated or falsified material and other evidence related  to the crime. That violates a constitutionalmandate that private documents and communication are “inviolable,” justices said.

The ruling could delay the bill’s passage by several months. Lawmakers must further debate the bill and hold a second vote. The opposition Citizen Action Party (PAC) could then challenge the bill again before the Sala IV, which takes about a month to reach a decision.

The bill is one of 12 required, in some form, to enter CAFTA before an Oct. 1 deadline. Six have become law.

The Sala IV has thus far found fault with one other CAFTA bill, the one that would lift a state telecommunications monopoly. Due to a technical glitch, lawmakers held a vote without debating motions proposed by PAC lawmaker Leda Zamora. They must now debate the bill further.

 

You may be interested

Costa Rica’s snakebite research pioneers save lives worldwide
Changemakers
76 views
Changemakers
76 views

Costa Rica’s snakebite research pioneers save lives worldwide

Mitzi Stark - May 23, 2018

The Clodomiro Picado Institute is spread along the main road of Dulce Nombre de Coronado, northeast of San José. Its…

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby
sports
198 views
sports
198 views

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby

Ellen Zoe Golden - May 22, 2018

A three-part look at adaptive surfing in Costa Rica. Read Part I here to learn how a Central Pacific coach is…

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network
Human rights
255 views
Human rights
255 views

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network

Elizabeth Lang - May 22, 2018

As Costa Rica continues to grapple with the disagreements about marriage equality and gender identity that dominated the second round…