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Trade deal sparks controversy over copyright in Costa Rica

published 28 January 2010 updated 28 January 2010

Final ratification of a free trade agreement with the United States has been delayed in the Costa Rican legislature amid a growing controversy over the deal’s intellectual property provisions.

While the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States has been in place for more than a year, the Costa Rican legislature has yet to approve amendments needed to meet its CAFTA obligations on intellectual property rights.

CAFTA’s provisions concerning copyright have sparked protests from students and academics who worry the requirements would limit their ability to copy from textbooks for educational and research purposes. Meanwhile, health officials in the country have warned the protections for pharmaceutical products demanded by the U.S. would “bankrupt the public health system.”

CAFTA, a bilateral trade agreement between the United States and countries in Central America, obligates the parties to enhance copyright protection beyond that required by international agreements.