Book publishers and the Cámera del Libro sent a letter to President Laura Chinchilla Miranda Friday urging her to veto a bill that would permit photocopying copyrighted materials for academic purposes.
The measure already has been passed with strong support in the Asamblea Legislativa. The bill, No. 17342, would eliminate penalties for photocopy shop operators who duplicate copyrighted materials. Supporters of the measure said that much of the copyrighted material comes from outside the country and generally is overpriced.
The letter said that although the bill has not been signed the effects already are grave in that sales have been reduced between 20 and 25 percent. The letter attributed this to illegal photocopying of copyrighted works. The letter also said that retail distributers already were returning books unsold.
The letter also noted that a restricted right to photocopy already exits in the current law for academic purposes. The elimination of penalties in the proposed measure is far broader.
The letter also said that by stimulating photocopying, the government would be reducing the creative and educational works that might be produced in Costa Rica.
Representatives of seven editorial houses signed the letter. Among other criticisms, the letter said that the proposed measure was just politics and demagoguery.
In fact, the restriction on photocopying is related to the free trade treaty with the United States. Among other provisions, the treaty seeks to prevent the illegal reproduction of printed materials, songs, movie CDs and brand name clothing, all of which are easily available in Costa Rica, mostly from foreign sources.