Most countries have set fees for the registration of copyright and related rights, while Colombia stands as a global reference for doing it free of charge, which will change with the National Development Plan 2022-2026 (PND).
Based on the principle of automatic protection, the benefit and exercise of copyright are not subject to registration but arise from the moment the works are expressed in a physical or digital support. In our country, artistic, literary, audiovisual, musical, works, and software, along with related acts and contracts, are deposited before the National Copyright Directorate (DNDA) for publicity and proof of authorship or ownership. Failure to do so may entail cumbersome efforts to prove authorship and ownership in potential infringement processes.
Since its inception, the DNDA has registered over a million works, acts, and contracts free of charge, which is a low figure considering the constant intellectual production in our country. This can be attributed to authors’ and rights holders’ lack of awareness regarding the mechanisms and benefits available for managing their intellectual property.
However, the PND has instructed the DNDA to implement fees for registration, certification, listing and modification of works and contracts, up to a maximum of 2 Tax Value Units (UVTs), and for nominations, granting legal personality, and operating authorizations, up to a maximum of 10 UVTs. Conciliation and jurisdictional matters are exempt from charges.
According to the PND, the purpose of introducing these fees is to “protect copyright holders and other right owners and ensure productive creativity that contributes to the development of cultural industries and the country’s wealth.” However, it is evident that this will discourage authors and right holders from depositing their works, acts, and contracts, which currently can be done for free.
Another challenge arises when observing that the DNDA can reject a registration application multiple times, requiring it to be resubmitted for rectification, which would entail payment of a new fee each time until approved. Therefore, the DNDA should also reconsider its examination process so that any aspect requiring rectification is addressed in a single opportunity or under the same application, to avoid becoming burdensome for the applicant.
In conclusion, authors and copyright holders should take advantage of the privilege of free registration while the PND is being implemented and, in any case, embrace the culture of registration as a beneficial mechanism for managing their intellectual property.