Lisbon World capital of copyright shows that culture unites and fights fear

José Jorge Letria

More than 250 leaders of authors’ societies from around the world make of Lisbon on 8 June and throughout this week the global capital of the debate on the collective management of copyright. Many people from many countries and continents will be present who require policy makers, regardless of their degree of intervention in the specific field of culture, at this general assembly of the International Confederation and Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), which is based in Paris And composer Jean-Michel Jarre as president, to protect the legitimate rights of those who create music, literature, cinema, visual arts, theatre or dance and to ensure, through legislative production but also through competent and decentralized supervision, that those who create Culture are not left unprotected, despite the Brexit in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump to President of the United States. Great evils never come alone and mutually explain and reinforce each other…

Admittedly none of these facts are isolated. We can add to them the rhythms, demands and unpredictability of the technological revolution and the daily uncertainty caused by the terrorist assault on democratically organized societies and the spaces and situations that embody the desire for freedom of people of all ages and origins and thus everything becomes more eloquent and clear. Culture in its various manifestations and expressions is perhaps the face and the most unifying voice of this freedom that today is in the sights of those who destroy to terrorize, to divide and to associate everything that is beautiful, diversified and mobilizing in an act of heresy and affront which can attract all destructive hatred and power.

In Lisbon this week there will be present CISAC’s top leaders, the leaders of its continental committees and those of the committees representing music, literature and the visual arts. As the chairman of SPA holds the presidency of the CISAC European Committee of Author Societies until 2018, the oldest and broadest of the four existing ones and also integrates the directive structure of the European Group of Societies of Authors and Composers, based in Brussels, its responsibility will be redoubled, which leads SPA to legitimately regret that political power, always with a heavy agenda, may not realize the mobilizing importance of this global event. However, the mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, a man always attentive to the central and strategic issues of culture and the arts, made sure to receive all those who will be together on the 8th to discuss ideas, opinions and complementary strategies in defence of the authors of all disciplines and culture as a force generating employment, wealth, national cohesion and internationally recognized attractiveness for countries like Portugal. This goes very well for Lisbon and Portugal. The Minister of Culture unfortunately had no agenda that would allow him to guarantee the presence of the government in the event and deliver the SPA Medal of Honour to Jean-Michel Jarre. It is very sad.

On the other hand, SPA will use this week to reaffirm the growing strategic importance of Lusophony, promoting in the Teatro da Trindade on the night of June 6th a great concert with singers from Portuguese-speaking countries, who will count from Paulo de Carvalho to Ivan Lins, the Cape Verdean Solange Cesarovna, President of the Cape Verdean Society of Music, which in this CISAC world-wide assembly will be integrated in the confederation, which opens and widens doors for the great musical creators of Cape Verde to be even more recognized, applauded and accepted throughout World, a process for which SPA has struggled very hard.

In Lisbon, SPA launches the English edition of a collection of texts by prominent Portuguese jurists on copyright and its future and also a double CD with some of the greatest male and female interpreters of fado of several decades. Many of the participants in this global general assembly of CISAC are interested and committed listeners, which means that this urban musical form that is now universalizing and conquering new publics and markets has here a powerful instrument of dissemination and reinforced appreciation.

Lisbon will be the world capital of copyright this week, attracting leaders, experts and authors from all over the world, always with the universalist and humanistic force of the Portuguese language in the background. This is also how battles are won, especially those of culture and the arts that stimulate and enrich us, remembering that by the end of this century more than 400 million people will speak Portuguese throughout the world and that there will be more and more men and women to make cultural activity their trade, as is the case today with more than seven millions in this Europe that resist to terrorism and disbelief and does not allow fear to distance it from the halls and precincts, be it the one of Manchester or Bataclan in Paris, where generations who share music, brotherhood and joy believe that they can never give up building a better world. The general assembly of CISAC also comes to Lisbon to strengthen this wise and courageous conviction. And will leave this mission fulfilled.

Writer, journalist and President of the Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores

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