bolivian dancers - Gatol Fotografía  CC-BY-SA

Gatol Fotografía (CC-BY-SA)

[Cross posted from Fundación Karisma, Link, (CC-BY)] In Bolivia, La Paz’s City Council is discussing the “Municipal Autonomy Bill No. 100,” which seeks to create mechanisms to ensure the protection of the public performance right of musical works via strengthening collecting society system.

The draft law has generated considerable public discontent in Bolivian society because it is quite broad in powers granted to the country’s main collecting society, SOBODAYCOM. The bill seems to have a very wide scope as it suggests that to develop any musical activity in the city of La Paz hereunder the SOBODAYCOM’s authorization will be required. The entity will grant it upon payment of the appropriate license.

By not limiting the payment scope to the music catalogue managed by the entity, the collection includes all the music even those under an open license (such as Creative Commons that includes a Noncommercial component) or is in the public domain. Even more troubling is that forms of creativity collective such as those of original indigenous groups, or other collective and social movements might also be included in those charges.

Moreover, the bill suggests that that SOBODAYCOM’s management will not only be for its members but will be mandatory for any beneficiary, including anyone whether or not affiliated. The bill includes an exception. Activities of “social, educational, sports and cultural nature, and others that do not have a commercial nature” (art. 9) are exempted from the payment. However, as the authorization is required, most probably the definition on when to apply this exception will be left to the collective entity, which also collects royalties.

Meanwhile, SOBODAYCOM states that the bill seeks to provide protection to Bolivian artists, through a proper collection of royalties for any public performance of their works. However, local author and artist organizations reject the Municipal Authorization to be set by the law as requisite for any public execution apparently must always be met, even in those event in which there is a musical execution of works in the public domain o under alternative and self-managed licensing. The discussion has also showed that the case of Bolivia raises other concerns. Bolivia is a country with an immense cultural and folkloric richness that do not follow the same Euro rooted legal norm. It would be incomprehensible that the intangible tradition and heritage that shapes its character and culture is not considered when legislating.

Collective society mechanism is important and key in heightening the income of authors and artists. However, an implementation that does not consider the nuances of the sector and  balances of creative and cultural environment can cause more harm than good.

On October 15th, the nonconformity managed to stop the process until there is a consensus among stakeholders.

It also draws our attention the collective Manifesto of several Bolivian artists expressing their disagreement with the content of the bill. Visit the Manifesto to know more about it and sign the petition.