These two submissions came in one after the other, both having to do with Brazil, so I decided to just mix them together into a single post. Of course, it's a bit of a good news/bad news sorta thing. Let's start with the "bad news." Reader Stuart Waterman alerts us to the news that Google, owner of Orkut (the social network that is amazingly popular in Brazil for reasons still unclear) has been ordered to pay Formula 1 racer Rubens Barrichello $500,000
because there were fake profiles of him on Orkut. If this were the US, the case would have been tossed out on Section 230 grounds (noting that the service provider is not liable for the actions of users -- even though the users may be liable). But the Brazilian court apparently said that Google is, in fact, liable because it manages the site. If you're a service provider in Brazil, you just got a reason to lock down any sort of user-generated offering. Of course, this has happened before to some extent. Remember that a Brazilian court once tried to get YouTube shut down entirely
due to an uploaded video that someone didn't like.
On to the good news. Carl
alerts us to the news that Brazil is considering a new copyright law that would legalize mashups and private copies
. It would also allow the reproduction of out of print works. Of course, this is just the proposed bill, and you can expect that the entertainment industry is about to send in the lobbyist army to fix things up quickly. On the whole, though, Brazil has been quite good about recognizing the downsides to overaggressive copyright law. In fact, Gilberto Gil
, a grammy-award winning musician and Brazil's former minister of culture, released his music under a Creative Commons license, and has regularly spoken out against abuses of intellectual property law
. And, of course, we've seen stories about how forms of Brazilian music have thrived by taking advantage
of the easy promotion and distribution allowed by file sharing. It would be nice if the country's laws were updated to reflect that.
Now, if only they could also change the laws to stop blaming service providers for the actions of users, then Brazil would get it all right this time.