International Internet Law: Panama’s Unusual Online Copyright Legislation

picture of digital copyright words to accompany a blog post about international Internet law Here’s one from the international Internet law files.

They say the grass is always greener elsewhere, but after reading about a potential new Panamanian online copyright infringement law, I’m staying firmly on my red, white, and blue lawn. If you thought SOPA, PIPA or ACTA were terrible, wait till you get a hold of Proyecto 510-212 – the death-star of Internet Intellectual Property legislations.

All Fear The GCD – Panama’s Potentially New Internet Power

The general Copyright Directorate – a Panamanian government department – is about to get a whole lot more powerful. In an unbelievable move, officials may grant the agency the right to impose fines on anyone caught violating copyrights online (read: illegal downloaders). What makes the law unbelievable is that wronged parties don’t have to request the action.  It’s so outrageous it deserves repeating: a government department was given the authority to start a witch hunt against all illegal downloaders – whether the copyright holder files a claim or not.

What will probably happen? The GCD will likely establish a torrent sniffing operation.

Is there a rebuttal process, you ask? Kinda. The accused have 15 days to mount a defense.

But Wait! There’s More To This International Internet Law

If a torrent Gestapo wasn’t bad enough, the money the GCD collects goes directly back to “improving its operational infrastructure and to boost the performance of its officers” (i.e., higher-powered sniffers and staff bonuses, is my guess). Just how much money could soon find its way into the GCD coffers? As the law stands now, the commission can charge between $1,000 and $100,000 PAB per violation. And if you’re unfortunate enough to get caught twice in one year, it’s double.

The Intellectual Property Onslaught Doesn’t Stop With the Fine

Believe it or not, fellow Internet intellectual property enthusiasts, the madness doesn’t stop there. Not only can the all-mighty GDC levy considerable fines, but violators may also face civil or criminal actions.

Sometimes it’s important to see the glass half full. This is one of those times. Because while we have our fair share of stateside online copyright issues – and an equal amount of ill-conceived legislation – at least our law books aren’t rocking anything quite as bad as Panama’s Proyecto 510-212.

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