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Latam Commons 2008

Open licensing, open technologies, and the future of education in Latin America (Santiago, Chile, 19-21 Nov.) [10/11/08]

The conference is split up into three meetings over the three days. On on Nov 20 the main theme, "Creative Commons, Open Education, and the Public Domain, is being co-hosted by ccLearn, the education division of Creative Commons, and Derechos Digitales.

The meeting will be a participatory gathering in which all attendees will be able to discuss a range of issues relevant to open education in Latin America, with the goal of developing a broad understanding of major education issues in the region and a focused vision of how open education and widely available educational resources can address these needs.

This meeting is intended to catalyze conversations and projects that will continue after the meeting is over, and to build relationships among people and organizations so that we can bring our collective energies and resources to bear on common challenges for open education. Future meetings are already planned, and we look forward to seeing the progress on this global effort that grows out of Latam Commons 2008.

Registration is free and open to the public, and for for additional information a wiki is up & running.

Fair Use in EU film documentaries

Resolution on freedom of expression and information in documentaries approved in Rome. [10/06/08]

In a recent meeting held in Rome, Italy, the Documentary Filmmakers of Europe - under the auspices of Doc IT (Italian Documentaries Association) and IDA (International Documentary Association) - discussed a long-range proposal called “European Best Practice on Fair Use in Documentaries”.

The approved resolution states, among other things, that "Fair Use within the EU is still little harmonized, and mostly regulated at a national level", while film documentaries should be allowed to freely "quote or otherwise use third party copyrighted works" in order to effectively represent "other people’s ideas and criticism and review on such ideas".

Underlying the lack of a EU legislation similar to the US law on Fair Use, the project aims also at addressing "to what extent the 'US Best Practices' could find an application in Europe in order to facilitate global exploitation of audiovisual works".

Among the various initiatives to be launched soon, the organization plans to conduct a preliminary legal study on the US Best Practices and their applicability within the EU, to organize in early spring a general debate on fair use, and to launch the European study on copyright and Right of Quotation/fair use.

Full text of the "Resolution on freedom of expression and information in
documentaries" is available on the IDA website.

Open Societies vs Intellectual Enclosures

Conference on "Open Societies vs. Intellectual Enclosures: Innovation, Imitation and Economic Growth" on 3-4 October in Alessandria, Italy.[09/23/08]

Hosted by the Università del Piemonte Orientale, the conference will take place at Palazzo Borsalino, Via Cavour, 84, Alessandria.

The event attempts to gain further insights into the ambiguous relationship between intellectual property rights and welfare, by focusing on the role played by the openness in knowledge domain.

The specific aim of the event is to gather a number of distinguished scholars and experts from European and US universities with different backgrounds to discuss the thesis as to whether open and competitive societies have been, historically, the most innovative and creative.

The two-day event comprises a series of panels focused on issues such as Reinventing the Openness in the Information Age, Knowledge Diffusion, Intellectual Property and Trade, and Knowledge Production as a Social Activity.

For more information, please visit the event webpage.

US: more power to copyright holders?

The US Senate will vote soon on a sweeping legislation granting the U.S. Justice Department the ability to prosecute civil cases of copyright infringement.[09/12/08]

The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act (.pdf) also creates a Cabinet-level copyright-patent czar charged with creating a worldwide plan to combat piracy. The czar would "report directly to the president and Congress regarding domestic and international intellectual property enforcement programs."

The bill, strongly backed by Hollywood, labor unions and manufacturers, will further increase the power of copyright holders, who are resorting to civil courts to sue copyright infringers. The Recording Industry Association of America, for example, has sued more than 30,000 individuals for infringement. Digital rights groups and others say it goes too far and is just another gift to copyright holders.

The bill, a nearly identical version the House passed last year, encourages federal-state anti-piracy task forces, the training of other countries about IP enforcement and, among other things, institutes an FBI piracy unit.

More information:

"Be Right, Copyleft"

A festive and informative "Copyleft Festival" is scheduled in Arezzo, Italy, on 11-14 September.[09/08/08]

The 2. annual edition of this festival offers more than 30 events, including workshops and bar camps, live concerts and art performances, book presentations and discussion panels, and much more.

Open and free to the public, the event is in part a showcase of many cultural expressions (well beyond Italy) being released under 'alternative' licensing, while also providing information and discussion on various issues related to copyright and 'copyleft'.

Along with debates about the need for free library lending and for preserving the common goods, a series of workshops will detail the specific use of Creative Commons licenses in music, cartoons, and other creative works.

On saturday 13 afternoon, a roundtable will address how the current market economy is putting at risk humanity's cultural and public heritage. The panel includes Philippe Aigrain, chair of SARL SOPINSPACE, one of the COMMUNIA founding members.

Copyright extension is the enemy of innovation

European professors write that the "proposed Term Extension Directive undermines the credibility of the copyright system". [08/29/08]

Under the title "Copyright extension is the enemy of innovation", recently The Times of London published a letter signed by about 20 professors teaching at Cambridge, London, Paris and other European universities. Here are a few excerpts:

"The simple truth is that copyright extension benefits most those who already hold rights. It benefits incumbent holders of major back-catalogues, be they record companies, ageing rock stars or, increasingly, artists’ estates. It does nothing for innovation and creativity. The proposed Term Extension Directive undermines the credibility of the copyright system. It will further alienate a younger generation that, justifiably, fails to see a principled basis.

[While] the Commission’s explanatory memorandum states: 'There was no need for external expertise,' ... We call on politicians of all parties to examine the case presented to them by right holders in the light of independent evidence."

On the same issue, please see also the open letter produced by Prof. Bernt Hugenholtz, Director of the Institute for Information Law at the University of Amsterdam (IViR).

World's Greatest Music Collection

According to the Library of Congress, only 17% of the music published between 1948 and 1966 is currently available on CD. [08/20/08]

As Paul Mawhinney, owner of that collection, points out in this video, "that means that people cannot buy at any price anywhere 83 percent of the music included in this collection."

He owns over 3 million records encompassing all genres and artists, collected in the last 60 years. Now, at an advancing age, stricken with diabetes and legally blind, Paul wants to sell the entire collection. It's been appraised at about $50 million, but Paul is asking a mere $3 million. He's had no serious offers, and an eBay auction back in February fell through.

This collection of American music clearly belongs in a museum or a library; it's a public treasury and people should be able to look, listen, touch, read and appreciate this legacy for future generations.

More information: World's Greatest Music Collection.

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