October 18, 2005
Gilberto Gil Goes to Government
Cool happenings over in my father's homeland, where the superlative Gilberto Gil (if you don't know, go look him up in iTunes) was tapped by Lula to become Minister of Culture, and is proving himself just as provocative and amusing as we'd all hoped:
For several years now, largely under the rest of the world's radar, the Brazilian government has been building a counterculture of its own. The battlefield has been intellectual property - the ownership of ideas - and the revolution has touched everything, from internet filesharing to GM crops to HIV medication. Pharmaceutical companies selling patented Aids drugs, for example, were informed that Brazil would simply ignore their claims to ownership and copy their products more cheaply if they didn't offer deep discounts. (The discounts were forthcoming.) Gil himself has thrown his weight behind new forms of copyright law, enabling musicians to incorporate parts of others' work in their own. And in one small development that none the less sums up the mood, the left-wing administration of President Luiz Inacio da Silva, or "Lula", has announced that all ministries will stop using Microsoft Windows on their office computers. Instead of paying through the nose for Microsoft operating licences, while millions of Brazilians live in poverty, the government will use open-source software, collaboratively designed by programmers worldwide and owned by no one.
The two worlds of Gil's music and his politics merged most closely when he announced that he would license some of his own songs for free downloading. Time Warner, which owned the licences in question, quickly announced that, actually, he would not. "That showed me how difficult the situation is," he says. "An author is not the owner anymore. He doesn't exercise his rights. His rights are exercised by someone else, and sometimes the two don't coincide."
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Gilberto Gil Goes to Government:
» Tropicalia - Excited about this exhibit from B12 Partners Solipsism
One of those artists, Helio Oiticica, called his installation “Tropicalia” -- a word that, the following year, became the title of one of the most famous Brazilian pop albums featuring Caetano Veloso and others.By the end of 1968, Tropicalia expanded i... [Read More]
Tracked on Oct 18, 2005 5:45:39 PM
Forgive the expression, but it seems like Mr. Gil really does have a plan to stick it to The Man.
Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Oct 18, 2005 1:50:06 PM
I think this is promising news, and Lula made an inspired selection.
Posted by: PSoTD | Oct 18, 2005 4:55:53 PM
Gilberto Gil has long been a hero of mine, as are others in the Tropicalia movement. I'm excited that the Museum of Contemporary Art (in Chicago) is about to host an exhibit, purportedly about Tropicalia. (more here)
Posted by: Seth Anderson | Oct 18, 2005 5:32:45 PM
The thing about the bit at the end is that he seems surprised that he's not able to give his songs away. A bit odd, considering he did relenquish the copying and redistribution rights (at least) over to the label to begin with.
Posted by: Fnor | Oct 18, 2005 11:20:05 PM
A few cultural phenomena make me sad. One is the posthumous fame my cousin, Hélio Oiticica has gotten now, almost forty years after his tragic death. Another is the fact Brazilian youth no longer care for Brazilian music. Most bloggers I see post in forums ridicule Gil and Caetano. Finally, it is also sad how age chips away at one's creativity. Both Gil and Caetano must live off the glory of the past. It's been many years since they struck an emotional chord in me with their music.
Just so I am not totally negative, I must say Gil is a pretty cool minister of culture.
Posted by: tina harris | Jun 30, 2006 5:03:03 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.