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.

 

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

The energy of sound
Pic of the Day
232 views
Pic of the Day
232 views

The energy of sound

Alissa Grosskopf - October 19, 2018

“Sound is vibration, vibration is energy and that energy is light,” said Costa Rican musician Carlos "Tapado" Vargas. Apart from…

Human rights defender Alvaro Leiva: ‘There is a permanent darkness in Nicaragua’
Nicaragua
427 views
Nicaragua
427 views

Human rights defender Alvaro Leiva: ‘There is a permanent darkness in Nicaragua’

Katherine Stanley - October 19, 2018

When Alvaro Leiva took the stage at a recent fundraiser for Nicaraguan refugees and immigrants in Costa Rica, all eyes…

Off the eaten path: Bar y Restaurante Rio de Janeiro
Dining and Nightlife
403 views
Dining and Nightlife
403 views

Off the eaten path: Bar y Restaurante Rio de Janeiro

William Ayre - October 19, 2018

Apart from its name and a mural inside featuring the namesake city in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is a very…