Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells' LimeGreen IP

The site will give you an overview of Intellectual Property law and related procedures, and how these may differ from country to country.

Copyrights - Copyright protection - Mexico

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-What are the works that can be protected?

The works protected by the Federal Copyright Law ("FCL") are those of original creation susceptible to dissemination or reproduction in any form or by any means.

Pursuant to Article 13 of the FCL, the subject-matter of copyright comprises all original literary and artistic works, in the following fields: 

  • Literary
  • Music, with or without lyrics
  • Drama
  • Dance
  • Painting or drawing
  • Sculpture or plastic works
  • Cartoons or comic books
  • Architecture
  • Cinematography and other audiovisual works
  • Radio and television programs
  • Computer programs
  • Photography
  • Applied art work, including graphic or textile design
  • Compendiums, made up of collections of works, such as encyclopedias, anthologies, and works or other elements such as databases, provided that these collections constitute an intellectual creation, due to their selection or arrangement of their contents or materials.
Derivative works such as translations, adaptations, revisions, summaries, musical arrangements and other kinds of transformations of literary and artistic works are also protected by the FCL, as well as neighboring rights, such as artist's performances.

-Will the work be protected in other countries?

Yes, considering that Mexico is a party to most of the international treaties and conventions on copyright protection, namely:

  • Berne Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971 Paris revision)
  • Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (1961)
  • World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights - TRIPS (1994)
  • World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty (1996)
  • World Intellectual Property Organization Performances and Phonograms Treaty (1996)

Therefore, subject to the provisions of international treaties and conventions to which Mexico is party, the protection could be extended to those countries that are also parties of such treaties and conventions.

-What are the requirements for copyright protection?

Registration of works with the National Copyright Institute is possible under Mexican law. However, as works are protected by the mere fixation on material supports, regardless of the merit, destination or means of expression, their registration is not required for obtaining copyright protection. There are, however, certain advantages of registration, as it constitutes a presumption of the existence of the right and that it pertains to the recorded right-holder.

The term of protection under the FCL depends on the exclusive prerogatives and privileges of a personal and economic nature. The former comprise the so called moral rights and the latter, economic rights.  While moral rights are perpetual, economic rights last for 100 years from the death of the author or from the legal publication of the protected work.

The FCL also provides for specific rules on the term of protection of neighboring rights, such as the right of performers, phonograph producers, audio-visual recordings producers, and broadcasting organizations.

-What are the author's rights under the national law?

FCL confers to authors moral and economic rights.

Moral rights are considered joined to the author. They are inalienable, imprescriptible; and may not be waived or encumbered. The FCL sets out the following specific rights under the heading of "moral rights" of authors: 

  1. The right to determine whether their work should be disseminated, and in what form, or whether it shall remain unpublished
  2. The right to claim authorship of the work
  3. The right to claim respect for the integrity of the work, opposing any deformation, destruction or other modification
  4. The right to modify the work
  5. The right to withdraw the work from trade
  6. The right to take exception to having any work that is not of their creation attributed to them. 

The moral rights are perpetual and survive the author's death. They may, however, be transmitted to the author's heirs upon his/her death (only the rights described in sections 1 to 4 above).

On the other hand, economic rights include every mode of exploitation or economic use of the protected work. These rights may, unlike moral rights, be freely assigned and have a limited duration in time.

The FCL specifically sets out a list with the patrimonial or exploitation rights, which are: 

  • Reproduction
  • Publication
  • Distribution
  • Public Communication, Transmission or Broadcasting
  • Import into the national territory of unauthorized copies of their works
  • Dissemination of works derived from their works, such as translations, adaptations, paraphrasing and transformations 

The FCL sets out limits to exclusive economic rights, which are specifically listed in the law, as "limitations to copyrights and neighboring rights".

-How do you assign copyrights / author rights?

Pursuant to the FCL, economic rights can be freely transmitted, unlike moral rights that cannot be assigned or waived. Any transfer of economic rights will be onerous and temporary.  Agreements and contracts conferring economic rights must be in writing, otherwise, they shall be null and void.

In addition, clauses of assignment agreements need to be accurately drafted in order to expressly reflect their term, means of exploitation and the territorial scope. Failure to mention these elements results in the assignment being for a 5-year term. The transfer or assignment may be covenanted for a period exceeding 15 years only when this term is justified by the nature of the work or size of the investment involved.

-How do you license copyrights?

Copyrights can also be freely licensed.  The holder of the economic rights can grant exclusive or non-exclusive licenses for use. 

Agreements and contracts conferring licenses for use must be in writing, otherwise, they shall be null and void.

An exclusive license must explicitly stipulate this nature and, unless covenanted otherwise, will grant the licensee the exclusive right to use the work and to confer non-exclusive authorization to third parties. An exclusive license obliges the licensee to use all means necessary for an effective use of the license granted, depending upon the nature of the work.