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Law No. 36 of July 19, 2007

Law No. 36 of 2007 is intended to promote the development of the movie and audiovisual industry in the national territory, to promote the protection and preservation of the Panamanian audiovisual heritage and to encourage audiovisual culture in the country’s population.

All material of moving images edited with a synchronized or featured sound track, in short, middle or feature-length film of any kind and format are to be considered movie and audiovisual productions protected by this Law.

Likewise, it is declared that movie and audiovisual Panamanian production is an activity of social interest, since it constitutes a fundamental area in the formation of the national identity.

This Law sets forth the requisites that a movie or audiovisual national work must have, among which we may mention that the producer or the producer company of the movie must be of Panamanian nationality; and that fifty one percent of the persons who form the technical or artistic teams that take part in its production must be Panamanian. The original language of the movie must be Spanish and the filming must preferably be made within the Republic of Panama.

Likewise, the productions carried out in a joint production regime with foreign companies, in accordance with previous conditions required by the involved producing companies, or by international agreements in force, are to be considered national audiovisual productions.

Film productions, in their final and original versions, are unique and irreplaceable cultural and artistic works that must be preserved and recovered in their original form and conception.

The productions of film or audiovisual works in any format must comply with the laws in force within the national territory regarding labor issues, authorship rights and related rights, otherwise such works will be subjected to the corresponding penalties.

Regarding public exhibits of a film or audiovisual work, through any means, it may not be mutilated, censured or cut without the express authorization of the holder of authorship rights.

It is pointed out in this Law that companies involved in production of national film and audiovisual works will enjoy the benefits set forth by this same Law, such companies must prove that they comply with the stipulations in force regarding labor issues, authorship rights and related rights; without affecting the application of the corresponding penalties.

The National Registry of the Film and Audiovisual Industry is created within the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, in which the producer of a movie or audiovisual work must register for the fiscal benefits set forth in this Law, for which such producer must comply with the requisites set forth by the corresponding regulation.

The Fund for National Film and Audiovisual Development is created in order to support the activities of filming, production, marketing and exhibition of the film and audiovisual national production and to have access to these benefits the requisites set forth by the corresponding regulation must be complied with.

The Fund for National Movie and Audiovisual Development will be allocated for the promotion of the audiovisual and movie industry, and for the preservation of Panamanian audiovisual heritage, through stimulus for the production of Panamanian film and audiovisual works; stimulus for the producers and directors of short, middle or feature-length film who have earned awards in international film festivals; national and international scholarships for the professional formation in the areas of audiovisual works and filmmaking.

The Fund will be managed by the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (Institute for National Culture), which will have the responsibility of evaluating projects and allocate resources in accordance with technical criteria and through mechanisms of transparency that will be set forth in the regulation corresponding to this Law.

Among others, such fund will benefit the projects that include the laying down of financial and credit plans, that indicate the viability for the carrying out of such project; the adaptation of works of national literature, with due respect to Authorship Rights and Related Rights, and to the research and writing of screenplays.

Likewise, the rate for services of inscribing and registration of the filmmaking and audiovisual industry is created, and the Ministerio de Comercio e Industrias (Ministry of Commerce and Industries) is authorized to fix, review and adjust such rate through the regulation corresponding to this Law.

It is established a sole counter, where companies may obtain the Visa of Temporary Personnel of the Filmmaking and Audiovisual Industry, for the foreign personnel who offers technical services to the company, for a period not longer than three months, in accordance with the requisites established by the Dirección Nacional de Migración y Naturalización (National Directorate of Migration and Naturalization) for the Visa of Temporary Visitor as manager, trusted worker, technician or expert.

The foreign investor who makes a film or audiovisual investment for an amount higher than one hundred and fifty thousand balboas ($150,000.00) will have the right to obtain the benefits of a Visa of Immigrant of residence as investor through the sole counter, as long as (s)he complies with the requisites established for that purpose by the National Directorate of Migration and Naturalization.