Copyright legislation in Brazil

The Marco Civil da Internet or Law No. 12.965 was passed on April 23, 2014.  A video about the law can be found in an earlier blog post here.

Critiques are already complaining that the law does not do enough to protect copyrights on the Internet.  I think this is misguided for two reasons.  The first is that not all copyright laws are worthy of upholding.  The second is because it is not always in the interest of emerging countries to abide by all international copyright laws.

1) Oligarchy industries have a tendency towards working in cartels.  As very large international businesses monopolize, there are pressures to maintain the status-quo and increase prices.  One way to protect their market share is to convince legislators to expand copyright protection for their products.  

In theory this is a good.  The company expended time and money on research and development.  If there were no property laws, it would always be better to wait until another company invented a product.  The second company would then just replicate the product and save on time and money.

The other extreme are long periods of time where a product is protected.  This disincentives other companies from improving on the product.  It also hurts the consumer, who then pays much higher prices for the products protected by patents.

2) “Developing countries” face a dual challenge.  The want to attract capital, but channel these investments towards meaningful development.  If a country has no property rights, investors are uncomfortable and might choose another country.  However, if “developing countries” protect international companies so completely, they end up doing so at the expense of their national population.  

I think Brazil has the right approach towards the Internet.  The want the Internet to be an open forum that fosters innovation.  Companies and websites that are not progressing fast enough will be pushed aside by others.  Individuals that steal or replicate products by the Internet can face other forms of punishment.  Pirate sites can be discredited by Internet users and the innovating company.  Also the original companies and websites should take this opportunity to launch an even more innovate product or idea.  This grassroots approach encourages a response from civil society and gives more people from all social classes the chance to profit from the Internet.

[The above post was inspired by this article.]

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