New Leadership At Brazil’s Copyright Office Raises Questions

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The head of the Brazilian intellectual property office was recently removed by the new Culture minister, replaced by an official who has some wondering if a swing toward stronger copyright protection is in the works for the government.

Marcus Souza was discharged as head of the Culture Ministry’s Office of Intellectual Rights in early March, replaced by Marcia Regina Barbosa (coming from the Attorney General’s office), who is said to have possible ties to the Brazilian music collecting society, ECAD (National Collection and Distribution Office).

The change came at the behest of new Culture Minister Ana de Hollanda, who recently also gained attention for shelving – at least temporarily – a hotly debated copyright reform bill. That bill garnered a large number of comments last year (IPW, Inside Views, 15 July 2010), and its removal in January raised some eyebrows (IPW, Inside Views, 8 February 2011).

Brazil had gained notoriety for the predecessor Lula government’s support of Creative Commons licensing (which retains rights but generally allows use of the content for non-commercial purposes with attribution), and more broadly leadership on a global development-oriented agenda that included support for access to knowledge (aimed at putting users on par with rights holders). A former Culture minister was famed musician Gilberto Gil (IPW, Inside Views, 27 September 2006).

[Update: a new blog by Ronaldo Lemos on the issue has been posted here.]

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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