Interesting interview with legendary musician and political prisoner turned Minister of Culture of Brazil Gilberto Gil from this morning’s Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. He talks about the Tropicalia movement, the importance of creative commons, and his thoughts on technology and the digital divide. Link to audio+video

Legendary Brazilian Musician Gilberto Gil on His Life, His Music and the Digital Divide

Forty years ago, the legendary Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil was a political prisoner. Today, he is a cabinet official in the Brazilian government. As protests raged across the globe in 1968, Gil was at the center of a cultural and political revolution in Brazil known as Tropicalia. The movement was seen as such a threat to Brazil’s military dictatorship that Gil was jailed, then forced into exile, where he would become one of the world’s most celebrated musicians as well as a spokesperson for Brazil’s emerging black consciousness movement. Today, Gil remains one of Brazil’s best known artists, as well as the country’s Minister of Culture. He is now spearheading a different kind of anti-establishment revolution. This time it’s about democratizing the distribution of intellectual property rights. We spend the hour with Gilberto Gil in a wide-ranging interview on his life, his music, the black consciousness movement and the future of the internet.

Read excerpts from the interview transcript after the jump.

AMY GOODMAN: Gilberto Gil, you’re here in New York at the Personal Democracy Forum. Your latest album is called Broadband Pamphlet. You’re performing here tonight. Can you talk about the significance of the internet and what you call the peaceful revolution?

GILBERTO GIL: I think, as any other technologies and the previous ones that we had, you know, the time of the Industrial Revolution, the steam machine and everything, and then the plane, and then the radio in the twentieth century, and all those things have provoked movements, you know, shakes and movements in the society, in terms of instigating the society to advance, you know, in terms of broadening democratic possibilities, and so on.

So, this one now—I mean, the computer and the internet and the digital culture and the digital possibilities and everything—they have taken that to an exponential level, you know? So that the possibilities of inclusion and personal democracy, like the empowerment, the individual empowerment in this society, now the possibilities for that are extraordinary. And I think that we have to use it. We are starting to use that. The societies are claiming more space, more freedom, more inclusion in the communication process and everything. So now we are close to be able to say “I am the media,” you know, that every individual being empowered and given the possibilities, given the means to express themselves, to network, to post, to publish and everything and everything. It’s quite a new possibility that we have, you know?

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the Creative Commons movement, what it means, what it means in Brazil, what it means for your music, what you’re trying to do?

GILBERTO GIL: Yeah. The author laws, the author rights, I mean, they belong to—the way they are set and the laws are written and applied and everything, that all belongs to a previous period, you know, previous time, an analog, so to speak, an analog time. Now, the digital area, the digital era enable us to extend and expand cultural products and cultural goods and cultural possibilities to a level that we—we have to also rewrite and reshape the legal framework and the regulatory framework, so that it can adjust to the new possibilities. That’s what Creative Commons is about, bringing possibilities to manage their own work, you know, to the creators, so that the songwriters, the theater play writers, the book writers, and so and so, can have the possibilities to manage their own work and say—and determine what their work will serve for.

AMY GOODMAN: Gilberto Gil, do you see the way the music companies are cracking down on musicians and cracking down on access to music, calling it piracy, similar to the food companies like Monsanto cracking down on farmers, because they’re claiming they’re using their seeds in an unauthorized way?

GILBERTO GIL: Yeah, this is one of the things that we have to reconsider—I mean, the whole of the society, as I say, politicizing the new technology, so that we can discuss the uses, you know, and the restrictions and how far the restrictions should go and should stay and how open we should sort of get the whole system, you know, going, because we need that. I mean, there are several social uses that we can have, from pharmaceuticals and from intellectual goods and everything, that need openness to be considered, you know, so that the sharing, the access and everything, could be permitted. So we have to reshape them and the whole legal framework, you know, internationally and locally, you know, country by country and internationally.

And we are doing that. I mean, the Creative Commons project, for instance, helps a lot this kind of advancement, so that the individuals, the creators themselves, they can start establishing which kind of use they want their works to have, and which they allow, which they don’t allow the other people to do their works. But in Brazil, for instance, we are now launching a whole project of changing the authoral law in Brazil