Saturday, March 31, 2007

Open Access and the Newspaper Business

Newspapers are facing a serious financial strain. (I'm not sure it's truly a crisis). Advertising and subscription revenues fell significantly over the summer, and they do not appear poised to rebound.

Does this mean that open access to professional writing cannot survive at current levels of advertising support? Doc Searls thinks not, and has a great post explaining why at

Open Access Law - Access to Congressional Information

Two recent developments have helped highlight the general problem caused by application or implementation of copyright law to restrict access to federal information and federally-funded information and with policies that otherwise restrict access to such information.

First, as many readers may know, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi launched a blog in February 2007, and she posted a video taken by a C-SPAN camera of a committee hearing on the blog. The House Republican Study Committee accused her of infringing C-SPAN's copyright in the video and misusing it for partisan purposes.

There was some question of whether this video was in the copyright public domain as a government work under Section 105, which withholds copyright protection from works of authorship created by federal employees within the scope of their employment.

C-SPAN takes the position that video of proceedings on the floor of the House is in the public domain but that its committee footage is under copyright because it is taken by non-federal employees. However, C-SPAN has adopted a policy (i.e. a license) that "permits" non-commercial use of certain footage with attribution. (See also

Too many folks have assumed too quickly that all video is copyrightable. To be an "original work of authorship," the C-SPAN video must reflect a minimal spark of creativity on C-SPAN's part. If, as is likely, C-SPAN has little real choice about where to place its camera or how the room is lit, then there is a very real question about whether this video is in the public domain for lack of originality.

Second, capitolizing on the moment, a public interest coalition is rightly calling upon Congress to provide open access to the reports of the Congressional Research Service. These are U.S. Government works under copyright law, so this is not a copyright issue but a straight access issue.

This is an important step for the Movement for Open Access Law. For those who define open access as being solely about access to the scholarly literature, should appreciate and embrace this related movement for access to government-funded information.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

CC Learn - Employment Opportunity

Creative Commons is looking for an Executive Director to head up our newly launched division, CC Learn. The position is located in the San Francisco office, working with the astounding CC staff. Details are here. Please pass this information along to the networks you are a part of and encourage qualified people to apply.

CC Learn - Announcement

Creative Commons is pleased to announce that we are launching a new division called CC Learn, which will extend the work we've been doing to support open educational material and repositories - kindergarten through lifelong learning. This initiative is made possible by the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.

CC Learn's immediate goal is to work with those who already provide open educational resources to remove or mitigate barriers to combining or remixing content from different open collections. In other words, our goal is to make material more "interoperable," to speed up the virtuous cycle of use, experimentation and reuse, to spread the word about the value of open educational content, and to change the culture of repositories to one focused on "helping build a usable network of content worldwide" rather than "helping build the stuff on our site."

Please help us spread the news!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Petition for Public Access to Research

It's time to let policymakers in the United States know that you support open access. Following a very successful petition drive in the EC to support an open access mandate, a broad coalition of libraries, health groups, students, and consumers is jointly supporting a Petition for Public Access to Publicly Funded Research in the United States.

This petition, which is open to supporters around the world, will demonstrate clearly to U.S. policymakers the depth and breadth of support for access to federally funded research in the United States. Even if you signed the European petition, it’s important that you sign the US petition as well. Here’s why:
  • The European Commission petition was designed to support specifically Recommendation A1 of the EC’s Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets of Europe.
  • The U.S. petition is written to support public access to research funded by the U.S. government as well as the reintroduction and passage of the Federal Research Public Access Act.
  • The U.S. petition collects state-specific information, which is essential to making the case for public access to individual lawmakers.
The Petition for Public Access to Publicly Funded Research in the United States ( is open to individuals and organizations of all types.

If you are a researcher whose work is funded by the federal government, your signature is especially important since it shows that you want your work to be shared and used.

Please distribute this message and invite your members, friends, and colleagues to sign the petition as soon as possible in order that as much progress as possible may be made in the 110th Congress.