Larry Lessig and friends have founded Open Government, a movement to pressure the Obama administration to dismantle the barriers to free and open access to government and its data. Boing Boing/Happy Mutants are proud signatories to the petition -- I hope you'll sign up, too.
Principles for an Open Transition
2. No Technological Barrier to Sharing
A merely legal freedom to share and remix, however, can be thwarted by technological constraints. Content made publicly available should also be freely accessible, not blocked by technological barriers. Citizens should be able to download transition-related content in a way that makes it simple to share, excerpt, remix, or redistribute. This is an essential digital freedom.
For example, while content may be posted on a particular site such as YouTube, because YouTube does not authorize videos on its site to be downloaded, transition-created content should also be made available on a site that does permit downloads. Just as it would be unacceptable for government websites to block the copying-and-pasting of publicly accessible text, making video accessible in a manner that does not allow easy or authorized excerpting and reuse blocks access and engagement.
We would therefore strongly encourage the transition to assure that the material it has licensed freely be practically accessible freely as well. There are a host of services – such as blip.tv – which not only enable users to download freely licensed content, but which also explicitly marks the content with freedom it carries. However else the transition chooses to distribute its content, it should assure that at least one channel maintains this essential digital freedom.
An official New Zealand government bulletin on yesterday’s conclusion of the still-secret Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations accidentally confirmed something we all believed was in there all along: an extension of copyright terms to match the USA’s bizarre, evidence-free, century-plus terms.
Tim Harford, the Financial Times’s Undercover Economist, writes about the Happy Birthday to You court case, which finally settled the question of whether the familiar birthday song was still in copyright (it isn’t) and uses that as a springboard to ask the question: how long should copyright last?
For most of a decade, government negotiators from around the Pacific Rim have met in utmost secrecy to negotiate a “trade deal” that was kept secret from legislatures, though executives from the world’s biggest corporations were allowed in the room and even got to draft parts of the treaty.
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