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Marco Civil vs.Copyright Reform: a comparative study

Date added: July 5, 2017

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In 2009, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice partnered with the academic organisation Center for Technology and Society of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, to build a platform for a public consultation about a draft bill on Internet user rights - the "Internet Bill of Rights", or Marco Civil da Internet. A year later, the Brazilian Ministry of Culture put in place a similar process of public consultation for improving the copyright legislation - Copyright Forum - Fórum de Direito Autoral.

Both, the Marco Civil and the Copyright Reform public consultations, were innovative exercises in the use of ICTs for improving citizen participation in law making. After the public consultation and other institutional measures, the Marco Civil was finally approved by Congress in 2014. By contrast, the bill resulting from the public consultation on Copyright Reform was never taken to Congress.

This case study compares and contrasts the processes followed by these two participatory exercises. It analyses on the role played by different agents engaged in ICT-mediated citizen engagement, and new informational and communicative structures and their uses. The study highlights that both draft bills faced three distinct group of challenges: infrastructure, an enabling discussion environment and responsiveness. Comparing an experience that "went right" with one that "went wrong" raises hypotheses about the impact that different factors might play in a participatory process, such as:

  • the preorganisation of the interests and stakeholders of the matter in discussion
  • the intentions and capabilities of the state agencies leading the participation processes
  • the technical decisions behind the construction and maintenance of the consultation platforms
  • the political context in general, in particular, surrounding the matter of consultation, as well as other factors to be explored

 

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