Kafka in Brazil: Minister Ana de Hollanda’s non-transparent copyright reform consultation process

Excerpted from Pedro Paranaguá:

“Despite the nearly 8,000 contributions received in 2010 through an online, open and transparent platform that enables everyone to have full access to all content of the proposals, now the Ministry of Culture’s new administration is launching another consultation. Yes, another.

This time, however, one cannot say that it is open or transparent.

The proposals and suggestions, according to instructions from the Ministry of Culture, should be submitted using a Microsoft Word (.doc)[*] form provided by them, and sent either by email or by post. In the Ministry’s press release there is no mention whether the proposals will be made public by the Ministry or not. What’s wrong with that? One will not know how many proposals have been submitted, by whom they have been sent, nor what is their content. If something is released after the new consultation, one has no way of knowing if all proposals have indeed been published, nor any guarantee that the proposals will not be edited.

There is lack of transparency. There may possibly be reasons that explain this lack of transparency, but certainly there is no reason that justifies it.

A second point to be asked: Why does the form provided by the Ministry require legal justifications for the suggestions? Is this a consultation to society or to lawyers? I do not dispute that any proposal or suggestion that is accompanied by legal justifications (and that are plausible) will have greater chances of success. I wonder, however, whether social or economic arguments will be given less weight? Must it be so? Should it be so? Isn’t law supposed to regulate the activities (including economic) of society?

Finally, a third point. In his brilliant book, “The Trial,” Franz Kafka tells of an endless sequence of almost surreal surprises, generated by a higher and inaccessible law. The main character, Josef K., is being sued but he does not know for what reasons. Worst than that. He does not even know the rules by which the trial will take place.

After Brazil’s copyright draft bill was put out for public consultation last year, the text was revised and modified by the federal government’s Inter-Ministerial Group on Intellectual Property (GIPI). As usually is the case for such amendments, it prepared a detailed report explaining and justifying the new text.

That report has never been disclosed, however.

How will society present arguments on the new consultation without knowing the reasons that led to the redrafting of the bill? “Kafka reproduces the denial of the democratic state of law and at the same time, takes the reader to realize that, even living under the aegis of ‘full’ democracy, one must not lose sight that the institutions do not keep their raison d’etre in providing public service, but rather in subordinating to power and to the dominant classes.”

Should we live in a truly democratic state of law, it is imperative that there be transparency, and that the consultation be truly open, public, and visible to and by all, and that society may present its arguments and justify its proposals based on the justifications raised by the government when amending the draft bill.

Otherwise we are all Josef K.”

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