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Friday 22 October 2010

Patricia Covarrubia

‘Los 33’ and the Triumph of Values

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As everybody else I followed the Chilean miners rescue very close. It was I believe nothing to do with being ‘Latina’ but just a mortal, a human being. This blog has posted some news regarding the IP situation that this tragedy has brought, such as trade marks, domain names and movies.

The BBC news and CNN reported a new one: copyright. It appears that the message that announced the trapped Chile miners were alive and well is now copyright protected.

The note "Estamos bien en el refugio los 33" ("We are well in the refuge the 33") was registered in the Chilean Intellectual Property Institute (INAPI) by Chilean writer Pablo Huneeus and on behalf of Mr Ojeda, who actually wrote the note.

Mr Hunneus idea is to protect Mr Ojeda’s right because the said message has been printed on t-shirts, posters, banners, mugs, and even used in advertising slogans. Therefore, he wanted to ensure that nobody misused the phrase.According to the news, Hunneus was “prompted to officially register the phrase after seeing Chilean President Sebastian Piñera handing out copies of the message to the British Queen and prime minister during his tour of Europe.” He adds, “I thought that's just too much".

Mr Ojeda, is reported to be grateful that no one else will profit from his words, and he apparently wants his note back.

The Chilean leader reportedly considers the message part of the national heritage.

Law and Values:
Chile is a contracting party of the Berne Convention, so in reality the registration is a mere formality – no obligation. Many countries choose to register because they believe that it confers an important means of proof of authorship or creation of a work. Yet, without registration if the note is copyright protected it is born automatically by the creation of it (in this case it is 22 August 2010).

Checking the INAPI I noticed that to register a work, one of the formalities is to submit a copy of the work. Hence, I wonder what copy Mr Hunneus submitted.
The final straw, according to the info is the ‘handing out copies of the message’ to country representatives. Here is where I questioned the whole situation. Many questions I have, but some are expressed for further consideration (you are welcome to post yours):
1.- Is Mr Ojeda the author? He wrote the note, but was the note his expression, or someone else dictated that.
2.- If the note is granted copyright protection, then not only the copy of Chile’s President is infringing but also I gather that the publication of the note and communication are also infringements. At the moment the note was received and published I guess that they were not interested in copyright!
3.- the same goes for those that made and distributed the flags, mugs and t-shirts, were they infringing? According to what is claimed with this news is that they were.

There is the exception of copying for reporting current news, and I believe that at that particular moment everyone wanted to share such important information ‘they are alive’.

The value and the moral of this story is that the message brought 33 miners to life, because of its meaning, because everyone believed, because the Government put all his power to save them, because we humans did have hope and faith. The message unified many people and countries; the message was that, a ‘message of live’.

Lastly, Mr Ojeda’s wishes to have his note back - who is the owner of the message?I strongly believe that it belongs to the nation, to humanity. Don’t you agree?

There is of course those who want to benefit from this tragedy, and prove of this is the registration of several trade marks and domain names from third parties. Therefore, I write this post with a mixture of feelings - this tragedy brought the best of us, but once it ended...well, it ended.

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia