---

Wired: We Pledge Allegiance to the Penguin

“Late one tropical evening last year, a small delegation of
American online-rights activists and scholars–including Stanford’s
Lawrence Lessig, Harvard’s William Fisher, and John Perry Barlow of
the Electronic Frontier Foundation–sat in the living room of a
beachfront Rio de Janeiro penthouse, preaching the virtues of
Internet-powered cultural sharing to Brazil’s newly appointed
minister of culture. The minister himself, Gilberto Gil, sat on the
floor, cross-legged and barefoot, cradling an acoustic guitar in
his lap. In addition to being one of Brazil’s most high-profile
politicians, Gil is also one of its biggest pop stars, with almost
four decades of classic back catalog to his name. It was unclear,
therefore, just how Gil would respond to the Americans’ pitch: an
online music archive that might one day contain every Brazilian
song ever recorded, all downloadable for free. When they finished
laying out the ambitious plan, there was silence. Gil strummed a
contemplative chord or two, and then, as Lessig and Fisher eyed
each other in polite bafflement, the minister launched into a
five-minute, unplugged performance of the bossa nova standard
‘Formosa.’ Free of charge…”

Complete
Story