We’ve discussed some interesting things happening down in Brazil when it comes to copyright. First, we’ve looked a few times at how the super popular technobrega music industry has thrived by embracing giving away music and using that to build up fame and business models based on selling scarcities — such as live shows. But, perhaps more interesting has been the ongoing proposals for new copyright laws in Brazil. For example, there was the decision to buck the trend in many places and not have a notice and takedown provision like the DMCA, but only have content get taken down with a court order — a position that shows significantly more respect for free speech rights. Separately, one recently proposed draft amazingly included penalties for hindering fair use or the public domain.
It’s almost as if folks in Brazil have actually noticed how poorly set up most of the rest of the world’s copyright laws are.
Last month, Brazil allowed public comment submissions on copyright, and apparently at the last minute, a large group of artists groups and consumer rights groups put together a proposal to “end” the “war on copying” (found via IP Watch). Basically, the plan has a few parts, but the big one is the idea of legalizing non-commercial file sharing in exchange for a broadband levy of 3 Reais — or about $1.74 US. That’s certainly a hell of a lot cheaper than most proposals out there.
That said… while I appreciate getting rid of “the war on copying,” I do think there are some serious problems with a proposal like this. Copyright levies tend to have serious unintended consequences. They create large bureaucracies, where money collection and distribution is not always done fairly. In fact, they often tend to favor bigger name artists over smaller artists, and just having the bureaucracy creates overhead that goes to the bureaucracy, rather than the artists. On top of that, it takes away incentive for consumers to support artists directly through other creative business models, because they feel that they “already paid,” via the levy. So, as it stands, I don’t think this is a great solution, but it’s at least a hell of a lot better than copyright law most other places — and it’s great to see a focus on actually getting past the old “copy wars.”