One of the big problems in science is the proliferation of databases whose content is technically incompatible or legally proprietary in some fashion — and therefore unable to be used by others in their research. For years a number of smart, committed scientists, law scholars and techies have grappled with the problem of making data accessible and re-useable. Now they have released a blueprint for doing so.
The public domain — long a stepchild in the fierce politics of copyright law — is finally starting to come into its own. A diverse array of individuals and organizations associated with COMMUNIA, the European “thematic network” on the digital public domain, have issued a major manifesto explaining the importance of the public domain to democratic culture.
As a grad student, Daniel Reetz was starting to choke on the high prices being charged for his textbooks. Then one day he had an epiphany: it would be cheaper to buy a good camera and photograph a textbook than it would be to buy the textbook itself.
A huge international coalition has come together to campaign for respect for the civil rights of citizens and artists in the digital era. Yesterday, the Charter of the Culture Forum of Barcelona for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge was released by more than 100 representatives from 20 different countries who had met in Barcelona from October 30 to November 1. The Charter is a landmark statement about rights of commoners to freedom of expression, access to culture and knowledge, privacy, cyber-security and Net Neutrality, among other concerns.
For years, the free culture world was resolutely focused on building its eclectic array of commons projects — free software, open-access journals, wikis, and pools of creative works using Creative Commons licenses. History may record that the free culture reached a turning point in Barcelona, Spain, in November 2009. At the Free Culture Forum, a conference that just concluded this week, free culture activists from about twenty countries came together to assert a shared political and policy agenda.
These remarks were given by David Bollier at the Free Culture Forum [www.fcforum.net] in Barcelona, Spain, on October 30.
This conference takes place at a time of great promise and great peril. Great promise, because we have the opportunity to secure what I call the Digital Republic. And great peril, because the 20th Century content industries show few signs of recognizing the legitimacy and value of the digital commons and its principles of openness, participation and decentralized control.
Joi Ito, the globe-trotting investor, democratic activist and CEO of Creative Commons, got frustrated that no one seemed to have a good photo of themselves that they could share. "People who are invited to conferences get asked all the time, 'By the way, do you have a photo that we can use?’ But they don’t." Or if people do have photos of themselves, they generally aren’t legally usable. The photographer owns the copyright, and so anyone wishing to use the photo must obtain permission first, and perhaps even pay for usage rights.