Law 9.739 of December 17th, 1937 and its amendments establish the protection of the moral right of the author of any literary, scientific or artistic creation and recognizes the right of ownership over the productions of his thought, science or art. Likewise, it protects the intellectual property right over the works, including the author's exclusive power to alienate, reproduce, distribute, publish, translate, adapt, transform, communicate or make them available to the public, in any form or procedure.
The term "work" means those expressions, but not the ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts themselves, which imply intellectual, scientific or artistic production, such as musical compositions, books, illustrations, theatrical and audiovisuals plays, among others, in which any production of the intelligence domain is at stake.
Through Laws 19.857 and 19.858, both enacted by the Executive Power on December 23rd, 2019, certain aspects of Law 9.739 and its subsequent amendments are modified.
Through Law 19.857, the protection of copyrights over the abovementioned works is extended from 50 to 70 years.
Therefore, the protection of the economic rights will be extended until 70 years after the death of the author. For their part, the record labels, publishers and performers will collect the respective royalties until their 70th anniversary from the first edition.
Likewise, the reform implemented by the recent law establishes that the works, interpretations, phonograms and the emission of broadcasting that are under the public domain without the expiry of the protection period of 70 years previously mentioned, will automatically return to the private domain, without prejudice of the rights that third parties had acquired over the reproductions of those works and related rights during the period in which they were under the public domain. This means, retrospectively, that those works that had passed into the "public domain" for having elapsed the original term of 50 years, will return to the protection radius of the regulation. What causes the reform, in short, is that family members or interpreters who have stopped receiving royalties at 50 years after the author's death or the first edition was published, will be compensated retroactively.
In this way, Uruguay has coupled with international legislation on the subject (such as the United States, most European countries and Latin America, except Bolivia) and sets 70 years of post-mortem copyright protection.
On the other hand, Law 19.858 partially modifies Article 29 of Law No. 9.739 (more precisely its subsection 4), providing that the authors of musical works or composers will be entitled to receive remuneration for the public communication of the audiovisual work, including the public exhibition of cinematographic films, as well as the leasing and sale of material supports. The right to remuneration in equal terms is also enshrined in favor of directors and screenwriters. For the exercise of this right, directors and scriptwriters may establish a collective management entity in accordance to Law 9.739, being able to delegate the collection of said remuneration to another creator’s collective management entity. Both the remuneration for the authors of musical works or composers, as well as for directors and screenwriters will be inalienable. When the audiovisual work is published, communicated or distributed to the public by the producer in a non-commercial, non-onerous manner, the payment of said remuneration will not correspond.
Montevideo, January 2020