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SECOM attempts to close down Fundamedios website with copyright claim

This statement was originally published on fundamedios.org on 31 December 2015.

Since the evening of December 28 2015, the Communications Secretariat (Secom), via the Spanish company Ares Rights, has been attempting to close down Fundamedios' website for alleged copyright violation.

Secom claims that a photograph it owns was used when a screenshot of a video of one of President Rafael Correa's weekly broadcasts was used in a photographic composition, along with the image of journalist Emilio Palacio, to illustrate an alert after the president called the journalist a “psychopath” on December 12.

After the allegation was made, Fundamedios issued an alert about Secom's attempted censorship and used the same composition with the word “Censored”, which gave rise to a new claim that endangered the website's permanence on the air.

Fundamedios rejects this unacceptable act of censorship, which is virtually equal to closing down the organization. We also reject the fact that the Ecuadorian government would attempt to appropriate images that correspond to acts by senior officials that are paid for with public funds.

In this case, the answer given by Fundamedios to Amazon, the company that hosts our website, is that neither Secom nor Ares Rights can claim copyright for the presidential weekly broadcast. In addition, it is necessary to take into account the doctrine of “fair use” of content, according to which images used are considered 'for public use' when they are: comments, criticism, the reporting of news or for educational use. Taking into account that Fundamedios is a non-governmental organization that promotes and defends freedom of expression and precisely warns of acts of censorship such as those promoted by these claims, the fair use of these images is justified.

The first claim was reported through a notice by Fundamedios to the CloudFlare company, which provides protection to the organization's website. The claim was signed by Luis Martínez, of Ares Rights, on behalf of Secom. The company claimed that Fundamedios had violated DMCA laws and what it calls “the Ecuadorian IP laws” (without specifying to which legal text it was referring), because the photograph and its rights belonged to Secom.

Last October, the Communications Secretariat of the Presidency of Ecuador, SECOM, attempted to remove Fundamedios' legal status, but desisted when confronted by a huge wave of national and international support and solidarity for the organization.

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