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September 25, 2006

Breaking News: Brazil's Minister of Culture isn't big on IP

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Right now we're being lectured by Gilberto Gil, Brazil's Minister of Culture, popular musician, and commons radical. Here is a little background on Mr. Gil.  Here's some more. And here's a bit more, featuring a very funny anecdote at the bottom of the story.

Gil has just told us that the IP regime is so out of balance that it no longer functions as intended, but instead serves to stifle creativity and innovation. Jeez, I've never heard that before. I wonder where he got it? Oh, from Lessig and Barlow. That makes sense.

The Wired article cited above is all about how Brazil is showing such leadership on moving to the commons model. Brazil is all about open source, Creative Commons, Linux, etc. The Wired author is breathless with lust and admiration about how smart Brazil is, and how obvious this should be to all of us, and how dumb anyone is who doesn't follow Brazil's lead.

The one thing I keep remembering is that about the only thing Brazil has taught the rest of the world is how to keep screwing up their economy and failing to join the developed world despite almost unparalleled national resources and an educated workforce. The story of Brazil has been the government continually getting everything wrong, from economics to property rights to health policy.

Given their size and natural resources, Brazil (and Argentina) should lead the world, economically. So why have both countries spent the last 50 years or so in endless cycles of hyperinflation, debt, currency devaluation, property confiscation, etc.?

And why should the world look to Brazil, et. al. for leadership on IP? Isn't it more likely that, if the government of Brazil thinks it's a good idea, it's actually a terrible idea? I mean, given the 20th Century and everything?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Brazil or Brazilians. In fact, I rather like many of them. My gripe is with a government that has an almost unbroken record of doing disservice to its citizens and failing to grow its economy, now lecturing the rest of us on how we're wrong on economics and property rights. Give me a break.

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