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Gilberto Gil answers questions on copyright and Creative Commons

In Democracy Now! there is an interview with legendary musician Gilberto Gil, presently a cabinet official in the Brazilian government. In this interview with Amy Goodman, he is asked about some copyright issues:

"AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the Creative Commons movement, what it means, what it means in Brazil, what it means for your music, what you’re trying to do?

GILBERTO GIL: Yeah. The author laws, the author rights, I mean, they belong to—the way they are set and the laws are written and applied and everything, that all belongs to a previous period, you know, previous time, an analog, so to speak, an analog time. Now, the digital area, the digital era enable us to extend and expand cultural products and cultural goods and cultural possibilities to a level that we—we have to also rewrite and reshape the legal framework and the regulatory framework, so that it can adjust to the new possibilities. That’s what Creative Commons is about, bringing possibilities to manage their own work, you know, to the creators, so that the songwriters, the theater play writers, the book writers, and so and so, can have the possibilities to manage their own work and say—and determine what their work will serve for.

AMY GOODMAN: We are here in the Time Warner building in New York, where the Personal Democracy Forum is taking place. Can you talk about your experience with Time Warner?

GILBERTO GIL: Well, when I decided to open one of—some of my songs, you know, so that recommendation and sharing and everything would be possible, made possible for other people, I had a “no” from my company—then my company; I am not Time Warner anymore, then I was—and they wouldn’t allow me to use the songs that they had recorded. And I wanted—

AMY GOODMAN: You wanted them to be able to be downloaded for free?

GILBERTO GIL: Not necessarily to be downloaded for free, but to be open for different uses, you know, cultural uses by different people, the way the licenses, the Creative Commons licenses allow people to, so that they could recombine, they could share, they could redo parts or wholes of the songs for the cultural purposes, you know? And I couldn’t use the pieces that I had recorded for Time Warner. And then I used some of the pieces that I had already recorded for myself, because my contract with them was ending by then, and I had started doing my own recordings and owning my own recordings and some of them. And then I used some of that.

AMY GOODMAN: Gilberto Gil, do you see the way the music companies are cracking down on musicians and cracking down on access to music, calling it piracy, similar to the food companies like Monsanto cracking down on farmers, because they’re claiming they’re using their seeds in an unauthorized way?

GILBERTO GIL: Yeah, this is one of the things that we have to reconsider—I mean, the whole of the society, as I say, politicizing the new technology, so that we can discuss the uses, you know, and the restrictions and how far the restrictions should go and should stay and how open we should sort of get the whole system, you know, going, because we need that. I mean, there are several social uses that we can have, from pharmaceuticals and from intellectual goods and everything, that need openness to be considered, you know, so that the sharing, the access and everything, could be permitted. So we have to reshape them and the whole legal framework, you know, internationally and locally, you know, country by country and internationally.

And we are doing that. I mean, the Creative Commons project, for instance, helps a lot this kind of advancement, so that the individuals, the creators themselves, they can start establishing which kind of use they want their works to have, and which they allow, which they don’t allow the other people to do their works. But in Brazil, for instance, we are now launching a whole project of changing the authoral law in Brazil, discussing—

AMY GOODMAN: You’re working with Lawrence Lessig?

GILBERTO GIL: With Lawrence?

AMY GOODMAN: With Lawrence Lessig?

GILBERTO GIL: Oh, definitely. Yes, we are partners. He brought the Creative Commons project to Brazil. We helped them—we helped him and the whole group to find their ways in Brazil, to find the right people, to find the universities and institutions that back them in Brazil. So we became close friends. We are working together, yeah".

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