The Coup that they Call a Conversation (because we weren’t in the Senate)

Caetano Veloso invited me, while exchanging e-mails, to meet a group of people that, according to him, had been studying copyright law greatly and had some ideas different to mine. I always enjoyed a good conversation and accepted his invitation, despite not believing that good ideas can come from people influenced by “Vanisa Santiago”.

I don’t go much on social networks, but, through others, I had heard of some members of the group, nothing that could be taken too seriously. After all, they based themselves on the craziness of Randolfe, the amazed. 
On June 17th, I got on a plane in Belo Horizonte and went with Marisa Gandelman to this very meeting. Upon arrival the room was full of people and on greeting Caetano he cheerfully invited me to sit next to him. The owner of the affair, and not of the house, his manager, moved me to the back, on a bench. At the time I didn’t see any ulterior motive in her gesture, but, in the unravelling of the events, I understood the meaning of the scenario that she had prepared for me, Danilo Caymmi, Walter Franco and Bigonha. I don’t know if the impression that I formed differs from theirs. However, I speak for myself.

They wanted me to speak. I said that if what they wanted was monitoring of ECAD (the Central Office for Collection and Distribution) I would accept it unconditionally, as long as it didn’t hurt the Constitution. After all, there are two immutable clauses on the subject. The first prohibits the interference of the State in the functioning of associations. The second, on establishing that the exclusive right to use the work belongs to the composer, declares that the price for using it shall be decided solely by that person. Hence, there is no room for state interference here either. I added that the true and most efficient monitoring should be carried out by the composers and artists, the owners of ECAD.

But I soon realised that they didn’t want to do anything to fix what they thought was wrong, all they wanted to do was complain and ask for the protection of the State. That was when things started to get ugly. I felt, and the position they had put me in the room exaggerated this impression, as if I were the target of the shots in Goya’s “The Shooting”. The manager berated me without even uttering my name, just shouting “this one here” only talks about the Constitution. I began to realise that perhaps half the people present, having their own objectives, considered the Constitution to be, not the bible of the citizens and of citizenship, but a minor obstacle to be destroyed, devalued and swept from the life of the Country.

Antonio Carlos Bigonha, lawyer and musician, questioned the foolishness of giving up a personal, won over and private right, and handing it over to the State. His turn to be stoned: “Are you a musician?” He is and she isn’t, as you well know. I tried to explain that the weight of the vote of the composers in the UBC (Brazilian Union of Composers) elections is 95%. They either didn’t hear me or they weren’t paying attention to what I said. I said that all information about every composer, everything that you might want to know, is at the disposal of our associates, on-line, through a personal password. Did anybody hear and take it in? Not a soul.

Danilo Caymmi questioned delivering themselves into the hands of the state at a time when, nationwide, Brazilians are standing up against the incompetence of the government regarding the basic topics of education, health, security and public transport. The State can’t even carry out its most basic obligations.
After listening to a lot of nonsense and realising that what had been pitched as a conversation was, in fact, the authoritarian imposition of the anti-democratic ideas of the majority, I decided to keep quiet. I was disappointed with the aggressive interventions of some fellow professionals. Others were more civilized, Marisa Monte and Fernanda Abreu, for example.

I decided not to say another word and I listened with my mouth shut to the malicious explanations and lies from some. I wanted the nightmare to end and regretted not believing in certain things: a dip in bath salts would do me good when faced with gunshots that are labelled as a conversation.

In the end, when they confirmed that they weren’t familiar with the new text that would substitute that of Lindbergh/Randolfe/Creative Common (a horrific and unconstitutional draft law) another meeting was agreed for when they would have it at hand. I didn’t know that the coup was already well underway.

They said they were unaware of the changes to the Senate Bill from the 17th to 18th. The next day, Caetano’s and Roberto Carlos’s managers and people connected with the Globo system were already in the Senate, in Brasilia, conspiring. They managed to make worse what we thought couldn’t get any worse. Contrary to the signature and statement of more than 1200 composers, musicians and artists who had publicly expressed themselves against the decisions of CADE (the Administrative Council for Economic Defence), they transplanted them into the bill. And they added an article to free Globo from possible defeat at the Superior Court of Justice (Court of Appeals) regarding the payment of music copyright.

The coup continued, with the strategy of, and with the utmost urgency, approving the monster, in just one day, at the commission and in the plenary sitting of the senate. I don’t know what they did to Senator Aloysio Nunes, who simply suggested a break to debate the matter better, whether it was fascist or authoritarian, the two are quite similar. Our colleagues were dictators and oppressors. May power not fall into their hands, God forbid!

The artists present in the Senate, who do not live off copyright but shows, ignored the almost two hundred thousand Brazilian who live off public performance copyright. Irresponsibly, they worked for those who use music and do not want to pay what they owe. The internet search engines and telephone companies that refuse to recognise our rights enshrined in the Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

They laboured to destroy the arm that collects and distributes music rights for everyone. They bolstered themselves with the “constitutionalist” senator Humberto Costa, who was out of tune in declaring constitutional what clearly is not. They propped themselves up on a mediocre anthropologist from the Ministry of Culture, who, I learnt, wants to destroy composers in order to have material to work with: to study us.

They ignored the voice of their colleagues, several hundreds, both artists and composers like them, as important as them (the list is public, in the document “Vivo de Música” (“I live from Music”)), who abhor the ideas of CADE and their bureaucrats that know nothing of the structure of public performance rights in Brazil and around the world. Incidentally, whoever drafted the monster that passed through the Senate intended to legislate on what they didn’t understand.

Finally, the artists who were in the Senate taking part in the coup, representatives of themselves and of the interests of their managers, dishonoured the restless Brazilians who are out on the streets, in embracing and entwining with characters that Joe Public is condemning.

Fernando Brant is a songwriter

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Filed under Brazilian Copyright Act, Brazilian Copyright Law, Brazilian cultural policy

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