In July the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote about the predicament that Colombian student Diego Gomez found himself in after he shared a research article online. Gomez is a graduate student in conservation and wildlife management at a small university. He has generally poor access to many of the resources and databases that would help him conduct his research. Paltry access to useful materials combined with a natural culture of sharing amongst researchers prompted Gomez shared a paper on Scribd so that he and others could access it for their work. The practice of learning and sharing under less-than-ideal circumstances could land Diego in prison.
The EFF reports that upon learning of this unauthorized sharing, the author of the research article filed criminal complaint against Gomez. The charges lodged against Diego could put him in prison for 4-8 years. The trial has started, and the court will need to take into account several factors: including whether there was any malicious intent to the action, and whether there was any actual harm against the economic rights of the author.
Today EFF, Creative Commons, Right to Research Coalition, and Open Access Button are launching a campaign to help raise awareness about Diego’s situation, to promote a reasonable handling of his and similar cases, and to support open access policies and practices. We hope you’ll sign on.
Let’s stand together to promote Open Access worldwide.
Help Diego Gomez and join academics and users in fighting outdated laws and practices that keep valuable research locked up for no good reason.
Diego Gomez, a Colombian graduate student, currently faces up to eight years in prison for doing something thousands of researchers do every day: posting research results online for those who would not otherwise have a way to access them.
If open access were the default for scholarly communication, cases like Diego’s would become obsolete.
Academic research would be free to access and available under an open license that would legally enable the kind of sharing that is so crucial for enabling scientific progress.
When research is shared freely and openly, we all benefit. Sign the petition to express your support for Open Access as the default for scientific and scholarly publishing, so researchers like Diego don’t risk severe penalties for helping colleagues access the research they need.
Scientific and scholarly progress relies upon the exchange of ideas and research. We all benefit when research is shared widely, freely, and openly. I support an Open Access system for academic publishing that makes research free for anyone to read and re-use; one that is inclusive of all and doesn’t force researchers like Diego Gomez to risk severe penalties for helping colleagues access the research they need.
The hearings are still going on; please keep calling, emailing, and otherwise spreading the word!
Tomorrow the House Judiciary Committee will debate and potentially vote on SOPA, the Internet Blacklist bill that would break the Internet.
Our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have compiled a list of 12 actions you can take now to stop SOPA.
Soon you’ll find a huge banner at the top of every page on the CC site protesting SOPA. The Wikimedia community is considering a blackout to bring massive attention to the danger posed by SOPA. Many others are taking action. What are you doing?
For background on the bill, why it would be especially bad for the commons, and links for news, check out our previous post calling for action against SOPA and a detailed post from Wikimedia’s General Counsel.
Finally, remember that CC is crucial to keeping the Internet non-broken in the long term. The more free culture is, the less culture has an allergy to and deathwish for the Internet. We need your help too. Thanks!3 Comments »
November 16 the U.S. Congress will hold hearings on a bill that would unfairly, recklessly and capriciously enable and encourage broad censorship of the Internet in the name of suppressing distribution of works not authorized by copyright holders. As Public Knowledge aptly summarizes, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” would seriously “threaten the functioning, freedom, and economic potential of the Internet” by:
- short-circuiting the legal system, giving rightsholders a fast-track to shutting down whole websites;
- creating conflicts between Domain Name System (DNS) servers, making you more vulnerable to hackers, identity theft, and cyberattacks;
- sanctioning government interference with the Internet, making it more censored globally.
SOPA threatens every site on Internet, but would especially harm the commons, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, focusing on free software. The same applies to free and open projects beyond software, which often use CC licenses. While standard public licenses have lowered the costs and risks of legal sharing and collaboration, SOPA would drastically increase both the costs and risks of providing platforms for sharing and collaboration (think sites ranging from individual blogs to massive community projects such as Wikipedia, from open education repositories to Flickr and YouTube), and vaporize accessibility to huge swathes of free culture, whether because running a platform becomes too costly, or a single possibly infringing item causes an entire domain to be taken down.
The trend that one can plot from the DMCA (1998) to SOPA, and continued extensions and expansions of copyright and related restrictions around the world, also demonstrate the incredible importance of the commons for healthy information policy and a healthy Internet — almost all other “IP” policy developments have been negative for society at large. The DMCA was decried by advocates of free speech and the Internet, and has over past 13 years had many harmful effects. Now, in 2011, some think that the U.S. Congress ‘struck the right balance’ in 1998, while big content is dissatisfied, and with SOPA wants to ratchet the ‘balance’ (watch out, 2024!) much further to their short-term advantage.
Techdirt has excellent coverage of the gritty details of SOPA, its ill effects, and the many constituencies alarmed (such as librarians and sports fans).
Please take action! If you aren’t already sharing works under a CC license and supporting our work, now is a good time. Bad legislation needs to be stopped now, but over the long term, we won’t stop getting new bad legislation until policymakers see broad support and amazing results from culture and other forms of knowledge that work with the Internet, rather than against it. Each work or project released under a CC license signals such support, and is an input for such results.7 Comments »
The Free Software Foundation has announced the winners of its 2009 Free Software Awards: John Gilmore (Advancement of Free Software Award) and the Internet Archive (Project of Social Benefit Award).
Last year Creative Commons won the Project of Social Benefit Award. As we noted then, many past free software award winners have been important participants in free culture as well — and free software is both an inspiration for and girds the freedom of the network and application layers needed for free culture to thrive.
This year’s winners continue in that fashion, even more than past winners. John Gilmore’s work in free software and free software business inspires, while his work as a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation girds many freedoms that the knowledge layer relies upon. The Internet Archive was the most important digital repository for free cultural materials before Creative Commons existed and has been a crucial host for CC-licensed works since Creative Commons launched.1 Comment »
For the past 20 years, our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been at the forefront of the intersection between technology and law, helping to define and fight for our rights in the digital age. We’d like to congratulate them on hitting the 20 year mark. To celebrate their 20th birthday, they’re throwing on a party this February 10th in San Francisco:
February 10, 2010
Doors open at 8 pm, VIP event at 7 pm
$30 donation (no one turned away)
375 Eleventh Street
San Francisco, CA
Special VIP donors are invited to a pre-party event with Adam Savage, John Perry Barlow, John Gilmore, Mitch Kapor, Mark Klein, and others.Comments Off
When it comes to copyright, our youth are too often bombarded with extremes. The entertainment industry giants propagate a skewed perspective by launching anti-copying educational programs, leaving out much of the balanced information necessary to cultivating user’s awareness about her real rights to a resource. This results in students thinking that they can react in only one of two ways: by breaking the law in the face of overbearing restrictions, or by doing absolutely nothing at all with copyrighted works, effectively stifling the learning that comes of creatively engaging with them.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation recognized this problem and went to work on a copyright curriculum that would not only be fair and balanced in perspective, but comprehensive in its scope by encouraging discussion and self-education. From the press release,
“Kids are bombarded with messages that using new technology is illegal… Instead of approaching the issues from a position of fear, Teaching Copyright encourages inquiry and greater understanding. This is a balanced curriculum, asking students to think about their role in the online world and to make informed choices about their behavior.”
ccLearn has taken a look at Teaching Copyright and we commend it. The curriculum is created and vetted by lawyers and promotes a balanced teaching perspective, clearing up much of the misinformation that is current industry propaganda. Like EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry says, “Today’s tech-savvy teens will grow into the artists and innovators of tomorrow.” We need to help them “understand their digital rights and responsibilities in order to create, critique, and comment on their culture. This curriculum fills an educational void, introducing critical questions of digital citizenship into the classroom without misinformation that scares kids from expressing themselves in the modern world.”
The entire curriculum and accompanying resources on the Teaching Copyright website are licensed CC BY, which appropriately encourages students, teachers, and anyone else to adapt it to various educational needs and contexts.2 Comments »