As discussed previously in these parts, Mr. Gil has my vote to run (and change the corporate DNA) of the RIAA. Copyright law should not be used as a club to keep corporate control of content, for all time.
Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira, part musician and part policymaker, has emerged as a central player in the global search for more flexible forms of distributing artistic works.
ON Wednesday the Brazilian minister of culture, Gilberto Gil, is scheduled to speak about intellectual property rights, digital media and related topics at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin, Texas. Two nights later the singer, songwriter and pop star Gilberto Gil begins a three-week North American concert tour.
Rarely do the worlds of politics and the arts converge as unconventionally as in the person of Mr. Gil, whose itinerary includes a solo performance at Carnegie Hall on March 20. More than 40 years after he first picked up a guitar and sang in public, Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira is an anomaly: He doesn’t just make music, he also makes policy.
And as the music, film and publishing industries struggle to adapt to the challenge of content proliferating on the Internet, Mr. Gil has emerged as a central player in the global search for more flexible forms of distributing artistic works. In the process his twin roles have sometimes generated competing priorities that he has sought to harmonize.
As a creator of music, he is interested in protecting copyrights. But as a government official in a developing country celebrated for the creative pulse of its people, Mr. Gil also wants Brazilians to have unfettered access to new technologies to make and disseminate art, without having to surrender their rights to the large companies that dominate the culture industry.
After returning to Brazil in the 1970s he made records that urged black Brazilians to reconnect with their African roots, and was an early champion here of Bob Marley and reggae. But Mr. Gil has also read widely in Asian philosophy and religions and follows a macrobiotic diet, leading the songwriter, producer and critic Nelson Motta to describe his style as “Afro-Zen.”
In person Mr. Gil is warm, calm and engaging, a slim, dreadlocked figure with an elfin, humorous quality that tends to disarm critics. As both individual and artist he has always tended to be open-minded and eclectic in his tastes; the poet Torquato Neto once said of him, “There are many ways of singing and making Brazilian music, and Gilberto Gil prefers all of them.”