Monday, 1 November 2010

THE EXEMPTION OF PAYMENT OF RIGHTS FROM PUBLIC PERFORMANCE: AN UNCOMMON UNANIMITY IN BRAZIL


One of the proposals to modify the Brazilian copyright law rests on the creation of a government structure to regulate and monitor the activities of the Brazilian Central Collection and Distribution Office – ECAD – who collects and distributes public performance royalties to composers and singers. Besides ensuring that the collected royalties get to those who really perform the musical work, the monitorance of ECAD’s activities will prevent such society from abusing the power granted by the Copyright Law.

In this perspective, the Federal Chamber of Deputies started examining Bill of Law 7375/2010 that exempts the payment of copyrights from the reproduction and public performance of musical works in non profit events. Example of non profit events considered public by ECAD may be marriage parties, graduate ceremonies, family gathering parties, church and other public festivities organized to obtain remuneration from the selling of tickets, but without profits.

I know that you, as a foreigner, may think bizarre the aforementioned Bill 7375/201, but restricting the public events that ECAD may collect royalties from is of utmost importance, as it is very common a family’s or wedding party being interrupted by ECAD’s authorities charging for the performance of music played there.

From the interior of Brazil, it is also very popular churches promoting in June of each year the “Festa Junina” (named Saint John’s), which is a party centered on the saint’s day and when the common dance “Quadrilha” and typical music are performed to the population. Priests take the chance and may use the “Festa Junina” to collect fees when rebuilding churches and religious sites are needed, as they are far away from the Vatican. Therefore, they become mad to have a visit of any ECAD’s personnel to attempt to get the piece of the collected remuneration for copyright purposes.

Local Scholars say that due to unreasonable practices, ECAD’s activities are not well comprehended by the population and suffer prejudices. In fact, ECAD is under examination by the Antitrust Division of the Ministry of Justice so-called SDE. Further to that, it is believed that ECAD’s strict measure may hamper the organization of cultural events which use music as an attraction but do not aim necessarily to obtain profits.

Therefore, Bill 7325/2010 expresses the feelings and the disapproval of the Brazilians towards unreasonable collection of royalties from public performance of local culture to private parties. Heated discussions on ECAD’s impact of culture access by the local populations are very much expected, as the advocates of the free movement of culture will recall Art. 215 of the Federal Constitution that secures to all citizens the access to sources of national culture and the full exercise of cultural rights.

On the other side, ECAD’s authorities will evidence its importance and it will use the jurisprudence formed at the Superior Court of Justice in its favor to collect royalties from the execution of music in public by any means.

While battles at the Brazilian Parliament will be seen shortly, the population determines that ECAD sometimes (or most of the time) hamper culture divulgation and violate private rights. Therefore, the approval of Bill of Law 7325/2010 is unanimously in Brazil and aims not to end ECAD but to regulate it.

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