Category Archives: copyrights

Pirates of the Millennium Part II: The Brazilian Solution


As promised, here is the second part of the Pirates 2007 saga.  Our story continues as a new hero of digital downloading emerges in the guise of international musical artist Gilberto Gil and now, Brazil’s new Minister of Culture.

As I’ve been absorbing the myriad media stories about piracy and such, a mantra has been repeating itself in my head: “the real problem is that we have an antique model for copyrights law, and we need a totally new system to address all the new technology and forms of distribution in the digital age of the 21st century.  I say just scrap the system and start over”.  

Sails into our harbor, Mr. Gil who recently spoke at the SXSW Music conference in Austin, TX.  As reported by Larry Rohter in The New York Times [sorry it’s a Times Select story, for those of you who aren’t subscribers to this service], Gil and Brazil’s Creative Commons movement, have done just that:  devised a new system of ownership and copyrights protection that looks like a real working model for the digital dilemmas we are now facing.

More elegantly put by Mr. Gil as quoted in the article: “I think we are moving rapidly toward the obsolescence and eventual disappearance of a single traditional model and its replacement by others that are hybrids…My personal view is that digital culture brings with it a new idea of intellectual property, and that this new culture of sharing can and should inform government policies.”

As the copyrights controversy heats up, I am now noticing other commentaries expressing similar thoughts. 

Here’s the Brazilian solution:

As Minister of Culture, Gil is working with the Creative Commons  movement, which has come up with a new system of ownership.  Creative Commons was started in 2001 to address the issue of all rights reserved copyright ownership. The movement is comprised of disparate groups, from “scientists and artists to lawyers and consumers” who believe that the “all rights reserved” system “impeded creativity and the sharing of knowledge in the Internet age”.

The Creative Commons movement has devised a three-tiered structure that retains some rights, shares some and gives some away.

For example, in the new system called “Copyleft” a musical artist would own all the rights on some songs, share the rights with a publisher on others and then have another group of songs with “no rights reserved”.  Those songs would be free and clear, to download, remix, copy, whatever.  One for me, one for you, one for everyone else.  The Copyleft system is already operating in Brazil with a huge database of registered properties.

The other thing Copyleft does is give all the rights back to the artist or creator.  Using this model, artists don’t have to give away all of their rights to studios or record companies. They get to choose which rights they want to keep and which rights they want to share.

This model makes so much sense.  You can control the mix and also the distribution.  Put watermarks on the copyrighted properties and none on the free properties.  

Let’s stop litigating and start creating copyright systems that work. For everyone.

Since the word “left” in America is so loaded, I propose that we call our new system “No Rights Left Behind”.

See my next post for why I think the U.S. should have a Minister of Culture.

To watch a few minutes of Gilberto Gil talking about music at SXSW go here (scroll down almost to the bottom of the page).