Dec 14, 2009

By Catherine Saez

An Argentinean judge’s recent decision to drop charges against a philosophy professor for alleged copyright infringement is being seen as a stepping stone to drawing attention to copyright issues in Latin America, according to advocates.

Professor Horacio Potel created open source websites to post foreign philosophers’ work in Spanish. The websites were named “Nietzsche in Spanish,” “Heidegger in Spanish,” and “Derrida in Spanish.”

On 13 November, the Argentinean justice decided that Potel’s actions did not justify penal prosecution, and he was declared free of charges, according to the Fundación Vía Libre, an Argentinean nongovernmental organisation focussed on civil rights in the digital area, who posted the court decision [pdf] on their website.

In December 2008, French publishing company “Les Editions de Minuit,” owner of the rights on some of Derrida’s books, lodged a complaint then passed on to the French Embassy in Argentina. The Argentina Book Chamber then started a legal action against Potel. (IPW, Access to Knowledge, 12 May 2009).

The professor had told Intellectual Property Watch in a previous interview that access to Derrida’s work was very difficult in Argentina, because of the cost of the books imported from Spain, priced in euros, and because of the scarcity of bookstores in the country side. The photocopying of textbooks is a major issue for academics and students, Roberto Verzola of CopySouth had told Intellectual Property Watch previously.

“In our legal system,” Beatriz Busaniche of Vía Libre told Intellectual Property Watch this week, “this case will not be considered as jurisprudence, but the case as a whole helped us spread the word about copyright issues.”

“One of the main results is that now social sciences universities here are aware of this conflict and really committed to open the debate around copyright,” she said.

Contacted by email, Les Editions de Minuit said they were not aware of the Argentinean judicial decision.

Both of the websites that were objects of the lawsuit are active again: http://www.jacquesderrida.com.ar/ , and http://www.heideggeriana.com.ar/.

Catherine Saez may be reached at csaez [at] ip-watch.ch. [source]

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