Monday, April 27, 2009

Urgent - The Fate of Internet Users' Rights in the EU

Readers in Europe who care about keeping the Internet relatively neutral need to express that opinion to policymakers in the European Parliament by April 29. In particular, it is inexplicable why the Green Party is on the sidelines and not actively supporting the Citizens' Rights Amendments that have been tabled to restore users' rights that were in an earlier version of the gargantuan Telecoms Package making its way through the European Parliament. Erik Josefsson is a leading proponent of these amendments, and he is hosting PDF versions of the amendments Part I, Part II and Part III on his site.

The magic numbers in this debate have been 138 and 166. These are the two amendments that initially were hailed in the US press as recognizing access to the Internet as a fundamental right, countering French President Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign to require service providers to impose the Internet death penalty on users found to have infringed intellectual property rights three times.

Lobbying by representatives of corporate and professional rights owners - remember there is no group dedicated solely to lobbying on behalf of the millions of amateur creators who also are rights owners under copyright - has led to a reversal of this position As Monica Horten reports, the current versions of Amendment 138 and Amendment 166 would allow for imposition of the Internet death penalty and non-neutral network management.

The Citizens' Rights Amendments have been tabled to reverse these back-room deals and to clarify the original position concerning users' rights.

While it is of course up to European citizens to decide for themselves what regulations they want to live under, as a participant in a global network, I hope that those who support the cause of citizens' rights will mobilize to establish those rights in law.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Can IP Law Save Newspapers?

The news that the Associated Press is going to rely increasingly on copyright and trademark law to staunch losses to its newsgathering business and its client/member newspapers does not bode well for the level of creative, entrepreneurial thinking needed in the Fourth Estate right now.

Robert Scoble has a nice post reflecting on the challenges facing the industry as currently structured and does a nice functional analysis of the assets news organizations still have to work with.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Open Access - Where is Columbia?

On Wednesday, April 8, I gave an open access presentation at Columbia University, and I asked the question why the university as a whole was not interested in demonstrating greater leadership in this area. The University Librarian, Jim Neal, has been a strong and important open access advocate for years. He has brought on Kenny Crews to help those on campus sort out the copyright issues. But, where is the rest of the campus?

Well, the good news, at least, is that two days later we saw that some of the students get it. Kudos for a very well done piece!

Physicists and the Harvard Mandate

Congratulations are due to the American Physical Society and the Harvard University Office of Scholarly Communication for working out an understanding about how Harvard plans to exercise its rights under the copyright license granted to it by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The press release is here.

This is further evidence that open access to authors' final manuscripts is consistent with the mixed subscription and page-charges model to fund the costs of publication and dissemination of research.