Copyright Controversy Over Educational Content in Mexico

In Mexico, a common line of thought is that projects funded with government money must be a public good. However, Mexican copyright laws challenged this perception after the government-funded Enciclomedia project failed due to fuzzy contracts, political conflicts and a lack of infrastructure.

Initially, the goal of Enciclomedia was to incorporate content from several different government educational programs and Microsoft Encarta into an educational multimedia resource for Mexican public schools. After the project closed, an ex-developer on the Enciclomedia team created Encicloabierta, which published the Enciclomedia content online.

A legal question then arose because the copyright for the content produced by Enciclomedia was held by Felipe Bracho, creator of the project. If the redistribution of content from the defunct Enciclomedia project is illegal, the educational resources developed by government funds would then be locked up.

A similar issue also exists regarding the free textbooks for primary schools provided by the Mexican Secretary of Public Education (SEP). Since the SEP holds the copyright to the textbooks, under what conditions may teachers or students prepare derivative works or copies without infringing on the SEP’s copyright?

The question is still in debate: should the Mexican government retain full copyright of these works? Maybe using more permissive licenses, like the ones from Creative Commons, will offer a better option for these kinds of situations.