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March 27, 2006

Prize Angel

I missed this. I blame it on being in the first year of law school.

The Ford Foundation and philanthropist Richard Gilder have contributed $600K and $250K, respectively, to rescue the civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize from copyright limbo. Wired reported this last August. The money will be devoted to clear rights to the still photos, video footage and songs that are used in the documentary, as production and archival work on the material

Now, PBS has announced that it will re-air Eyes on The American Experience in Fall 2006. This is happy, happy news. I should program my TiVo, like, now ...

Thanks to K. Matthew Dames' post about this ...

March 11, 2006

Beginning Sunshine Week

The Associated Press has reported on the trend to restrict access to government information on the state level:

In statehouse battles, the issue has pitted advocates of government openness — including journalists and civil liberties groups — against lawmakers and others who worry that public information could be misused, whether it's by terrorists or by computer hackers hoping to use your credit cards. Security concerns typically won out.

The AP discovered a clear trend from the Sept. 11 attacks through legislative work that ended last year: States passed 616 laws that restricted access — to government records, databases, meetings and more — and 284 laws that loosened access. Another 123 laws had either a neutral or mixed effect, the AP found.

"What these open government laws do is break down that wall of government secrecy so that everybody knows what's going on," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "A democracy can only function if we have information. You can only have oversight of government if you have information."

March 08, 2006

Cultural environmentalism

If --

   the public domain : Yellowstone Park ::

    librarians : park rangers?

My theoretical SAT question is based on this:

Ten years ago, Duke Law Professor Jamie Boyle suggested that the history of the environmental movement offered powerful theoretical and practical lessons to those who sought to recognize the importance of the public domain, and to expose the harms caused by a relentlessly maximalist program of intellectual property expansion.

Stanford Law School is holding a free conference this weekend on the cultural environmentalism theory and its application to protecting the public domain and fair use.

As a quasi-legal theory, the analogy makes sense. Copyright is viewed as property right. As much as the environmental movement is motivated to constrain the unfettered discretion of property owners in order to conserve/preserve/make more widely available physical resources for the public good, cultural environmentalism is motivated to constrain the unfettered discretion of copyright owners to conserve/preserve/make more widely available intellectual content and cultural materials for the public good.

But is the analogy sufficient? Should those of us who are concerned about fair use and the public domain consider ourselves environmentalists of a sort? Should this be a purely theoretical construct, or should cultural environmentalism follow the same or similar strategies as the physical environmental movement?

And, of course, there is my standard question for these things: where do librarians/archivists/etc. fit into the equation? And as is often, I have no firm answers, but I look forward to learning more at the conference (although I'll miss the first half of it).

March 07, 2006

Library in a box

The box is blue, to be exact.

PLoS has an article about developing portable health libraries for medical personnel in Africa, which was then picked up by TIME's Global Health blog.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) is very much aware that there are many areas in the world where access to the Internet is not yet a reality. In developing countries, a large proportion of the population, including health professionals, has no or only poor access to the Internet. Even printed materials, such as up-to-date books, current periodicals, and newspapers, are scarce. In this situation, professionals are obliged to rely on the knowledge acquired during their original training to care for patients, to prevent disease, and to promote health.

In many regions, the health district centers are staffed by nurses, midwives, and community health workers who, having finished their basic studies, receive little in the way of continuing education, as libraries rarely exist at the district level or in regional hospitals. The distribution of CD-ROMs to developing countries is an important initiative, which has proven to be a valuable source of health information. For example, the health-related CD-ROMs from TALC (Teaching-aids At Low Cost, http://www.talcuk.org) [2] and those distributed by the WHO and the joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) are much appreciated by their users. The CD-ROM is an important tool for information delivery in Africa because it does not take up a lot of space and shipping it is inexpensive.

Unfortunately, there are still many areas in the developing world that have neither computers nor a reliable electricity supply. Thus, in spite of the rapid development of information and communications technologies, the gap between “the haves and have-nots” continues to blight isolated areas (those outside a capital city). In these areas, the appropriate solution to information access is still printed material. In response to this need for printed health information, WHO librarians created the Blue Trunk Library (BTL) project.

All apologies

Maxima mea culpa. My spam filter was/is/may continue to be somewhat out of control. I apologize to Walt for his inability to post his entirely welcome comment to a previous post, and if anyone else has had problems posting to this blog, please let me know at ms_eli at yahoo dot com.

March 01, 2006

What's the future of fair use

The Online Journalism Review has an interview with Majorie Heins regarding her latest report on fair use and copyright law, "Will Fair Use Survive?"

Walt Crawford had an in-depth review of the Free Expression Policy Project's report. In his words, "Any librarian who cares about fair use—which should be almost any librarian—should at least glance through it, and should probably read it in full."