Principles for Open Government: a 3-point plan for an open Obama administration

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.

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 – 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.

Principles for an Open Transition (Thanks, Larry!)


  1. Why not do more than sign a petition Cory? I think that is important but why not see if you can meet directly with members of the administration. Joe Biden could use some education on copyright matters for instance.

  2. goto:

    Federal Trade Commission
    Title: Notice of Public Hearings and Request for Public Comments
    Subject Category: Public Hearings Concerning the Evolving Intellectual Property Marketplace
    Published: To Be Added
    Comments Due: Thursday, February 05, 2009

    How To Comment: The Federal Trade Commission will hold a series of public hearings beginning on December 5, 2008, in Washington, D.C., to explore the evolving market for intellectual property (IP). The hearings will examine changes in intellectual property law, patent-related business models, and new learning regarding the operation of the IP marketplace since the FTC issued its October 2003 report, To Promote Innovation: The Proper Balance of Competition and Patent Law and Policy (the FTC IP Report).1 Changes and proposed changes in the law, together with evolving business models for buying, selling and licensing IP, could significantly influence a patent’s economic value and the operation of the IP marketplace. The hearings will consider the impact of these changes on innovation, competition and consumer welfare.

  3. I don’t think that Cory is that short on the cash, JERRIL. Maybe Cory thinks that meeting directly with politicians isn’t as effective as a massive petition. Although I’m sure he can speak for himself.

  4. Both/And. Both a massive petition and direct face to face advocacy. Lobbying directly is difficult though because they are so busy.

  5. While the points brought up on the petition are meaningful, there is no mention of the most important barrier to transparency and openness of the transition process: the lack of an official record of the revision history of the information put forth.

    After all, who cares if you can transcode your dance-mix mashup of the latest policy announcement of “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” into a format playable on your favorite Non-MS open-source operating system, if the policy makers won’t come clean about the fact that the policy was originally just “All animals are equal,” or explain to you why they felt they had to change it.

    Come back with a petition that addresses that core issue, and then you’ll get my signature.

  6. y’know I’m kind of tired of all the Obama conjecture. To be president he will have already made compromises.

    “for men change their rulers willingly, hoping to better themselves, and this hope induces them to take up arms against him who rules: wherein they are deceived, because they afterwards find by experience they have gone from bad to worse.”

  7. What in the hell does this matter when what’s really happening is going unreported?

    Twenty-thousand federal government troops are being “re-deployed” onto American soil to “protect” us. This is against our Constitution and in violation of our most fundamental principals.

    We’re entering dark territory, and it makes no difference what party is in control now.

  8. I’m drowning in the irony over here; one of my cow-orkers recently implemented the popular “Websense” web-filtering software and this is what I got when I clicked on the link:


    Reason: This Websense category is filtered: Potentially Damaging Content.



  9. It should be noted, germane to point number 2 here, and Obama, that the videos that Obama has posted to youtube are available as high-quality Quicktime movies from

    It’s small, but it’s significant.

  10. I was listening to NPR today and heard an article re: how the Obama campaign’ss “grass roots” organization might evolve when Obama takes office. You can see the write-up (and hear the audio) here:

    In the article, there is discussion about debates on “”, followed by the statements:

    But if President-elect Obama wants to use the Internet this way in the Oval Office … he’ll need to change the law. The Paperwork Reduction Act forbids this sort of quick, informal idea-gathering.

    I don’t know that I can parse the Paperwork Reduction Act– can somebody out there explain why directly engaging with citizens would be prohibited under the act?

  11. Quicktime! Now every time I want to watch Obama speak Apple will prompt me (constantly) to download and install absurd numbers of programs!

    Way to be in Jobs’ pocket Mr O.

  12. @3 –
    Personally I think a truly public hearing would be something available to anyone, not just those who have the means to be in Washington, D.C. during that time period. Can we say VideoMail? After all, if we’re discussing evolving intellectual property issues why not discuss it in an evolved way.

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