CENTER FOR TECHNOLOGY & SOCIETY (BRAZIL) – DESCRIPTION OF PROJECTS
The Center for Technology & Society (CTS) is the home of Creative Commons in Brazil. It works closely with the Ministry of Culture of Brazil and other governmental bodies towards promoting access to knowledge and innovative open business models. The CTS is part of the Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School. FGV is one of the most traditional academic institutions in Brazil. The law school, nevertheless, was created in 2002, with the mission to promote a reform in legal thought and legal education in Brazil. The goal of legal education should be seen as promoting development according to the new paradigms of the 21st Century.
The strategy adopted by the Center for Technology & Society (CTS), accordingly, is that absolutely no project that the Center undertakes can have an exclusively academic character. All projects must produce some sort of practical impact over the Brazilian society.
We have embraced this strategy passionately, and the results have been consistent with our most optimistic ambitions. Below there is a list of projects that the CTS has undertaken in the past two years, thanks to the support of institutions such as the FINEP (Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos – similar in Brazil to the American NSF), and the Ford Foundation.
Below there is a description of some of the achievements of the CTS in the past two years:
(i) Creative Commons Brazil Project – Creative Commons has become a popular word and a media phenomenon in Brazil. The project was not only extremely well received, but enthusiastically embraced by a huge community of artists, starting with Minister Gilberto Gil. And artists are not the only users. Side by side with them, stands the civil society represented by all sorts of NGO´s. And even more surprisingly, the government itself has adopted several initiatives using the Creative Commons model. The website of the Ministry of Culture is entirely CC licensed. Two other important examples include the Ministry of Education creating a portal named “publicdomain.gov” inspired by and using the CC licenses. Also, the largest supporter of the arts in Brazil, the oil company Petrobras, included in its yearly call for proposals a clause recommending works supported by Petrobras to be licensed under a Creative Commons license.
(ii) Free Software Legal Support Group – Thanks to the support of FINEP, the CTS created a group for providing legal support for free software. As a strategy for spreading the free software legal concepts, the CTS created a national competition for research projects dealing with practical problems connected with free software business. The winners will be supervised and receive monetary support from the FGV Law School to prepare papers dealing with these practical issues. The competition deadline was September 16, and the competition was extremely successful in attracting impressive candidates from all over the country. It is also “porting” to the Brazilian jurisdiction other 19 “open source” license models, such as the Mozilla and the BSD licenses. These licenses had no Portuguese version to this date, and the FGV Law School will accredit their Brazilian versions.
(iii) Canto Livre – The Canto Livre project is the most ambitious projects dealing with culture and technology in Brazil. Also mentioned by Wired magazine , its scope is to create a decentralized peer-to-peer database of CC licensed musical material. The repository can be accessed by any digital technology (Internet, cell phones, digital tv, etc.). The expected results include preserving and disseminating cultural heritage, as well as building a genuine Brazilian content catalog and the creation of alternative solutions for content producers who don’t have access to the mainstream media channels. In short, the project is the starting point for new musical business models. The project was officially approved in July 2005 by the Ministry of Culture, allowing tax benefits to donors in Brazil.
(iv) Building the Southern dialogue on Culture, Media & Intellectual Property in the 21st Century – This is a project funded by Ford Foundation. It aims to build a ‘Southern’ dialogue and perspectives on Culture, Media & Intellectual Property, taking into account, for instance, the “Development Agenda” and alternative intellectual property licensing models. This is a joint project by two developing-country ICT organizations: CTS in Brazil and the University of the Witwatersrand’s Learning Information Networking and Knowledge (LINK) Centre in South Africa. The project has managed to put in touch musicians from Salvador with African artists, promoting the exchange of content. A nationwide TV program, totally licensed under Creative Commons is expected to be produced, reporting on the collaboration between Africa and Brazil arising from the project.
(v) Free Software and the Public Administration Regulatory Framework Study – The Brazilian Federal Government commissioned FGV law school to elaborate a most comprehensive and important study about the regulatory framework of free software, covering all its possibilities of implementation on the part of the public administration and the private sector.
(vi) Partnership with the Cultural Industry – Thanks to a long negotiation undertaken by the CTS, the largest and most important Brazilian recording company, Trama (www.trama.com.br) became convinced that the Creative Commons was an extremely attractive business model. They are now engaged in numerous initiatives regarding the project. The first of them, of translating the book “Free Culture” into Portuguese. For that, they followed the “non-commercial” license, under which the book is licensed. Accordingly, Trama could not sell the book, what was fine for them. Instead, they decided to publish the book and distribute it for free to all the university libraries in the country, and to everyone that might want a copy. Besides that, Trama is now engaged in releasing new records under the CC license, providing an extraordinary example to the whole country about how to do business with open models. They are also analyzing the feasibility of licensing their entire back catalog under CC, becoming a full-scale CC record label.
The projects above illustrate the strategy we propose. It is necessary to demonstrate in practice and now that the open model is business-superior than the traditional IP-based model. Additionally, it is already clear that for historical reasons, Brazil needs to leapfrog directly from the XIX century to the XXI century in terms of IP rights. In other words, it is mandatory for our cultural and economic development that we skip the “cultural industry” phase, predominant in the 20th Century, directly to a “cultural society”, which includes everyone in terms of access, production and dissemination of knowledge.