Brazil’s Copyright Reform: the tip of the iceberg?
Who follows the Twitter hash tag #reformaLDA (copyright law reform) or #novaLDA (new copyright law) is noticing in the past few weeks an avalanche of manifestations against, and rumors on Brazil’s new Minister of Culture: Ana de Hollanda.
Sister of acclaimed composer and singer Chico Buarque de Hollanda, Ms. Ana de Hollanda is herself a singer and composer as well. As soon as Brazil’s new president Mrs. Dilma Rousseff nominated Ms. Ana de Hollanda for the Ministry of Culture, which is responsible for Brazil’s copyright agenda, several academics, activists and civil society have been voicing concerns against the twist of policy that she might implement from now on.
Over 1,000 signatures have been gathered thus far on an Open Letter from the Brazilian civil society that is concerned that “the broad and open participation by society might be replaced by “commissions of notables” or “lawyers” giving their biased views on the subject”.
Nearly 8,000 comments or proposals (in Portuguese) to Brazil’s new copyright draft bill have been made on an open public consultation undertaken by the Minister of Culture in 2010 to reform Brazil’s copyright law. Now this civil society group points that “Brazilian society and all who had the opportunity to manifest themselves over the past years can not and should not be substituted, overlooked or ignored. The reform of the copyright law should proceed based on the opinions that were already widely expressed. This is the republican duty of the Ministry of Culture, regardless of personal opinions of those who run it.”
Former Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, was widely known for his enthusiasm and support to open culture, free and open source software, Creative Commons licenses, collaboration & remix culture, and so on. His successor Juca Ferreira, although not with the same charisma, gave continuation to Gil’s policies.
It would make sense that whoever would be the new Minister of Culture in Brazil, he/she would put forward a continuation from the previous eight years led by former president’s Lula mandate, after all president Rousseff was Lula’s henchwoman.
However, that may not be the case. Some rumors are becoming clearer.
Yesterday, while Campus Party Brasil 2011, one of the largest technology and hacker events in Latin America was taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s Ministry of Culture withdrew the Creative Commons license that it had on its website for the past few years. Although the website now shows this message: “License Terms: The content of this website, produced by the Ministry of Culture, may be reproduced, provided the origin is mentioned”, which in the end is very similar to the intention of a CC license, it seems that the tip of the iceberg has emerged.
Ironically, even in the U.S., where most of the pressure from content owners comes from, the White House uses one of the broadest Creative Commons licenses — and not only for the content produced by the government, but also for any content posted by anyone on their website.
It is still early to know exactly to what direction Brazil’s new Minister will head. Things don’t look good, nonetheless.