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From the Statist
12 January 1976

_Rodney Sees Red_

When is weakness strength?  When your company's strength relies on the
weakness of Mexican copyright protection.

Newburgh Entertainments (the Juggernaut on the Hudson) is fuming, but
there isn't much it can do. The cause of its consternation sits safely
across the border.  Chief Export Officer Steven Wiley recalls when he
first became aware of the issue.  He had just left a business meeting
at Mexico City's "cursy" Franklin Inn when, stepping out onto United
States Boulevard, he spotted a shocking advertisement plastered on a
passing mass transit locomobile.  The cover of Tania Monroy's latest
album?  Worse than that: It was an advertisement for a new collection
of cartoons featuring Newburgh's flagship character, Rodney the Rhode
Island Red Rooster.  To add insult to injury, it wasn't even for the
collection Wiley had just been negotiating over in the Franklin, but
rather for an entirely bogus collection apparently prepared locally in
Mexico without Newburgh's approval or input.

Wiley, recovering quickly, sent two assistants to canvas the Alameda
shopping district.  What they found has the Rooster seeing red.  Not
only was the bogus collection widely available for sale in regular
bookshops, but the thieves (one Comedies Mejicanas de Quality) had in
turn been stolen from by local "pirata printers" who were churning out
illegal copies of the illegal copies.  Further searching nearly sent
Mr. Wiley into apoplexy, as investigators found entire pirated or
bogus animated vita-shows.  And content has not always reflected
Newburgh's wholesome family image.  "Some of what we found being
distributed in our name I wouldn't have played in a New Orleans
bordello!" says Wiley.  "Blue content, and often so poorly written and
produced that the technique was as embarrassing to us as the subject
matter.  And they'd spliced in leaders and previews from stuff we'd
never be associated with, Monroy, Christiano, Muerte Negra.  Anybody
who played this fast and loose with our stock in trade in the
Confederation would have been facing a lawsuit within hours."

As it stands, Comedies Mejicanas de Quality was facing lawsuits within
weeks.  But Newburgh's vaunted legal prowess in defending its
creations has fallen flat in the USM.  Copyright protections are weak
even for domestic artists, who tend to capitalize on notoriety in ways
other than direct sales at home.  Witness, for instance, the marketing
of Tania Monroy in areas far removed from music.  For a CNA-based firm
the legal maze has proven to be difficult to penetrate.  And even if
CMQ is enjoined from producing further bogus materials (the company
argues that they are producing new and novel content and that
Newburgh's copyright does not apply), nothing will stop the "piratas".
 Legal bills are mounting and Wiley and Newburgh have yet to see any
definitive impact on the circulation of pirated materials, so the
firm' Mexican operation is seeing red in more ways than one.  Newburgh
also fears contamination of its pearly white image by low quality and
bawdy knockoffs, and even faithful piratings might lower the value of
its holdings if they manage to leak back over the border.

The impact of the fracas over Rodney the Rooster extends beyond one
firm, however.  CNA negotiators are expected to use the incident (and
countless others like it) as a bludgeon at the trade liberalization
talks.  The CNA increasingly depends on the production of high
value-added merchandise like 'loke designs, biological research and
Rodney, and liberalization without solid protection for such
properties in the USM is likely a non-starter.  There is some irony in
the Mexican position, as Mexico uses exports of this nature as a huge
foreign-exchange source itself. It relies on solid protections
elsewhere in the world to assure the earning potential of Monroy and
her ilk even as it allows widespread piracy right under its nose,
cuckoo-like.  This makes any serious defense of the weakness of such
protection in Mexico proper untenable in the long run.  Some analysts
of political economy therefore expect a favorable response from USM
negotiators...for a price."