Biology student in Colombia faces jail for reposting scholarly article

Colombia's draconian copyright law (passed after US pressure) provides for prison sentences for simple copyright infringement; Diego Gomez, a biodiversity conservation Master's candidate at University of Quindío shared a paper related to his fieldwork, and the paper's author has brought a prosecution against him.

He is being sued under a criminal law that was reformed in 2006, following the conclusion of a free trade agreement between Colombia and the United States. The new law was meant to fulfill the trade agreement's restrictive copyright standards, and it expanded criminal penalties for copyright infringement, increasing possible prison sentences and monetary fines.

Colombian digital rights organization, Fundación Karisma, is supporting Gomez in his case to fight against these excessive criminal charges. Carolina Botero, staff attorney at Fundación Karisma writes (translated from Spanish):

The rationale is the potential damage that "piracy" in the industry generates. Without prejudice to the pending debate on the subject, it should be clear that the actions of users, non-profit activities, and sharing, are not crimes. […] In a society that has a disruptive technology like the Internet, the exercise of the rights to education, access to science and culture, and respect for freedom of expression must be respected.

Colombia does not have flexible fair use system like in the United States. It has a closed list of exceptions and limitations to the rights of authors (derecho de autor). This list was issued more than 20 years ago and are narrowly tailored to some specific situations that are not at all applicable to the digital age. Therefore none of these will apply directly to his case even if it was done for educational purposes.

Colombian Student Faces Prison Charges for Sharing an Academic Article Online
[Maira Sutton/EFF]

Read my story (english) [Diego Gomez/Karisma]