Between December 20 and 27, 2023, the new Argentine government led by President Javier Milei first announced the Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU) consisting of 366 articles for the deregulation of the economy. Subsequently, the government introduced the Law of Bases and Starting Points for the Freedom of Argentines (Omnibus Law) containing high-impact economic, tax, energy, criminal, and electoral reforms for the entire society.
Among the various modifications in the Omnibus Law is Article 323 (formerly 350), proposing substantial changes in the management of intellectual property rights, suggesting a shift from mandatory to voluntary and individual management. This alteration significantly affects entities like the Argentine Directors (DAC), ARGENTORES, the Argentine Society of Authors and Composers of Music (SADAIC), and the Argentine Society of Actors and Performers Management (SAGAI).
Additionally, several organizations, including the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) and the National School of Experimentation and Filmmaking (ENERC), the National Institute of Music (INAMU), the National Theater Institute (INT), the National Fund of the Arts (FNA), and the National Commission of Popular Libraries (CONABIP), are now at risk of defunding.
In response, the cultural sector declared a state of alert and mobilization, believing that "the Law project includes measures and repeals that result in serious defunding of INCAA, affecting its entire operation, production, and promotion of national audiovisual culture, leading to its total disappearance in a very short time," as stated by DAC in a December 29, 2023, statement. They emphasize that such actions "cannot be allowed in any way in our country."
In this context, cultural sector workers held a nationwide strike on January 24, called by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), with protests in different provinces of Argentina against the approval of the DNU and the Omnibus Law by the national Congress.
Vital International Support
Various representatives of Argentine culture expressed their concerns to lawmakers regarding the harmful impact of these laws. Despite announced modifications to the original project, hidden amidst chaotic articles are provisions severely affecting the author’s rights system, detrimentally impacting directors, writers, actors, and musicians across the country.
In this regard, DAC issued a statement explaining the gravity of the modification, highlighting that "without collective management, we would be individually unprotected in negotiations with entertainment giants, risking the surrender of rights and accepting disadvantageous conditions for our work and the desire to see our works on screen. But this project seems willing to sacrifice the protection of creators for an 'individual freedom' that actually opens the door to abuses."
The statement also points out that "in other countries, legislations protect creators by expressly limiting the assignment of rights as a protective shield, and in Argentina, mandatory collective management plays, until now, that role of a shield."
Given the threat to Argentine audiovisual authors, DAC received written support from over 25 international institutions, including Confederations, Federations, and Associations. This support underscores the seriousness of the modification and proves crucial in this time of uncertainty.
Notable institutions sending support include the Audiovisual Authors Confederation International (AVACI), the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), and the Federation of Audiovisual Societies of Latin America (FESAAL).
Support also came from European associations such as the Civil Society of Multimedia Authors of France (LA SCAM), the General Society of Authors and Editors of Spain (SGAE), the Union of Audiovisual Authors and Producers of Poland (ZAPA), the Slovenian AIPA, the British Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society Ltd (ALCS), the Swiss Society of Authors (SSA), and from Oceania, the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society (ASDACS).
Latin American associations providing support include the Panamanian Society of Authors and Composers (SPAC), Colombian Audiovisual Directors Society (DASC), Collective Rights Management Entity of Audiovisual Producers of Colombia (EGEDA), Society of Authors and Composers of Colombia (SAYCO), Colombian Network of Audiovisual Writers (REDES), the Uruguayan General Association of Authors (AGADU), the Chilean Society of Audiovisual Directors, Screenwriters, and Playwrights (ATN), the Peruvian Association of Authors and Composers (APDAYC), the Venezuelan Society of Authors and Composers (SACVEN), the Bolivian Society of Authors and Composers of Music (SOBODAYCOM), and the Mexican Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico (SACM).
According to Argentine collective management institutions, the bill threatens to "dismantle the social benefits" provided by this type of management and does not "evaluate the successful model represented by gender-based collective management in Argentina, a legal and valid monopoly for decades. A system that has its parallel in the United States, where even in one of the most liberal countries globally, the importance of safeguarding creators' interests in a unified and centralized manner is recognized. This is achieved through legal entities known as 'Guilds,' protecting directors' creative rights."
Finally, in response to incorrect information circulating during the justification of this article modification, DAC clarified to the public that "the fees received are not state subsidies but fair compensation paid by companies benefiting from our works. As directors, it is our right to receive equitable remuneration for the commercial use of our art."