Being a musician in Portugal

broken recordSwapping e-mails with Cory Doctorow about copyright. Reading new stuff about music 2.0, specially about blanket licenses. Discussing about new music business models and piracy in mailing lists. Doing some consultancy to social music networks. All of this leads me to discussions about how to do things better, and sometimes it makes me forget about the problems Portuguese people have nowadays even for the "music 1.0" era. So, this post is about the biggest problem I find about being a musician in Portugal. Note that this is not only of interest for Portuguese people, since many other countries are in a simmilar (or even worse) state.

The Portuguese law [1] is quite clear about the rights of copyright owners (translation is mine and sucks, sorry):
Are considered works the intelectual creations from the literary, cientific or artistic domain, exteriorized in any way, that, as such, are protected in the terms of this Code, including in that protection the rights of their authors.

Great, so now we know that any music created is covered by this law, as well as its author. Moving along...
For the purposes of this Code, the work is independent of its divulgation, publication, usage or exploitation.

So, if you make a song, you're covered, even if you didn't publish it or done anything with it.
The protection of the work is extensible to its title, independently from the registry, regarding that it cannot be confused with a title of any other work from the same type of another author, previously exteriorized or published.

So, not only the work but also its title is protected just by being created and named, even if it is not registred.
The published work is the work reproducted with its author's consent, whichever is the way the units are made, providing that they are disposed to the public.

So, when you do a track and, for instance, put it on the web to download or stream, you're publishing it.
The author rights are recognized independently of its registry, deposit or any other formality.

Yup, you're the author so you should do anything you want with it, without any obligation.

So... The law is preety cool in this aspects right? So here's the problem: the music industry acts like the Mafia, and in Portugal it's obvious. You know what mafia does: it "convinces" you that you need their (payed) protection, when, in fact, you're being protected... from them. So, the Portuguese entities that supposedly "protect authors' rights" - where you register your work - act in the same way. Want to have an example?

If you are the author of your own work and you want to pay to a Portuguese company to print some Audio CD's (not CD-R's), every of those companies ask you the same thing: you need to register your work to be our client.

So... isn't this acting criminously? What "protection" are these companies giving authors? Isn't this a block for creativity? So, if you think that Portugal is ready for a blanket license, or that the discussion is about piracy or stuff like that... Think twice. We have a structural problem here, and lot's of things worth fighting for.

[1] - http://tinyurl.com/yvf9na

image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/williamkunz/196894022/, covered by a Creative Commons license

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