Brazilian Congressman Organizing Follow-Up Hearing
WASHINGTON D.C. – The first Digital Americas foray by The Progress & Freedom Foundation concluded Tuesday, April 11th, with another successful conference on intellectual property rights. "Intellectual Property in the Digital World-The Importance for Brazilian Development" in Sao Paulo drew more than 100 lawyers, Brazilian and U.S. government officials and members of the local media, just as a similar conference, "Intellectual Property and Innovation in the Digital World," did on April 7th in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the Sao Paulo event, a Brazilian congressman said he plans to organize a congressional hearing to follow up on the conference’s themes.
The Sao Paulo conference was co-hosted by the Associação Brasileira da Propriedade Intelectual (ABPI). Among the featured speakers were Marylin Peixoto da Silva Nogueira, Information Technology Policy UnderSecretary, Ministry of Science and Technology; and two Brazilian congressmen, Júlio Semeghini and Julio Lopes. Semeghini was inspired by the conference and the debate, particularly the role patents might play in ensuring future economic growth in Brazil, and said he will work with ABPI President Gustavo Leonardos to organize a congressional hearing on the issues.
“It would be hard to imagine a more successful first effort by PFF in South America,” said PFF President Ray Gifford. “It was tremendously encouraging to see how many Argentines and Brazilians, including government officials, believe in the free market. We sensed a strong determination to see that local innovators and companies are given the same chance to succeed and prosper under strong institutions respecting intellectual property that are found in other nations.”
Gifford and others at PFF were encouraged by Semeghini’s call for a congressional hearing, as well as by Nogueira’s description of how the Brazilian government has aggressively targeted piracy and how it has decided not to mandate solely the use of open source software throughout the government. "We are not taking sides, we believe there must be a balance," she said. "It's not necessarily proprietary versus free. Of course, free is not necessarily free."
Gifford spoke at the conference, as did PFF Senior Fellows Jim DeLong, director of PFF’s Center for the Study of Digital Property; and Tom Lenard, vice president for research. DeLong discussed the differences between the Free Software Movement and open source software promoted by industry, and elaborated on his points made in Argentina and on a recent trip to Asia, namely that intellectual property is increasingly being commoditized as industries change the way they develop and acquire innovations. Lenard outlined the direct correlation between a nation’s institutional respect for intellectual property rights and its economic prosperity, a point made by several Brazilian speakers during the conference with corresponding data.
A highlight of the Sao Paulo conference was a luncheon presentation by Gerald Masoudi, U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General for International, Policy and Appellate Matters, in which he outlined DoJ’s four pillars of intellectual property protection. PFF will publish this address shortly as a Progress on Point.
More information on both the Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires conferences can be found on PFF’s Digital Americas blog, where PFF fellows participating in Digital Americas 2006 shared their thoughts and experiences.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.