Law and the GeoWeb, a workshop on IP and geographic data in the internet era sponsored by Creative Commons and the United States Geological Survey
Law and the GeoWeb
A workshop on “Intellectual Property and Geographic Data in the Internet Era” sponsored by Creative Commons and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in conjunction with the annual meeting of AAG, April 11, 2011, Seattle, Washington. The workshop will be held at the campus of Microsoft Research, and will be streamed live on the Internet.
This workshop will focus on intellectual property issues with geographic data, exploring situations when users and creators ranging from individuals to local, state and federal agencies as well as private companies and non-profits create, share and reuse geographic information from different sources over the Internet in their projects.
For more information, please see http://punkish.org/geoweb/index.html or search on Twitter for #lawandgeoweb
U.S Copyright Law protects tangible original works with creative content but the law also ensures that facts, that is, data that are discovered rather than invented, remain free for everyone’s benefit. This ideas/expression dichotomy creates a lot of issues in the Internet age when information is very easily created, shared, used and reused.
With inexpensive computing and networking power available to everyone, geographic datasets are increasingly being created, shared and used by individuals, grassroots organizations, and private corporations. These data come with different expectations with regards to how they may be used resulting in a hodgepodge of licensing and contractual obligations that hinders data interoperability. Mixing data of different provenance creates new data with typically more restrictive licensing conditions. Public agencies may be unable to mix licensed data with government data due to restrictive licensing terms of the resultant dataset, and thus, may be unable to capitalize on and benefit from user-generated content.
The current line-up of speakers from federal, state and local agencies, Creative Commons, grassroots agencies, intellectual property lawyers, the geospatial industry, and research and academia includes:
- Ed Arabas, National States Geographic Information Council
- Greg Babinski, King County, State of Washington
- Michael Brick, Microsoft Legal, Bing Maps
- Steve Coast, Founder, OpenStreetMap
- Kari Craun, Director, National Geospatial Technical Operations, USGS
- Ed Parsons, Chief Technologist, Google Maps, Google
- Diane Peters, General Counsel, Creative Commons
- Tim Trainor, Bureau Chief, Geography Division, US Census Bureau
- Paul Uhlir, Director, Board for Research Data and Information, NRC
The format of the workshop will encourage discussion and participation.
To ensure those directly involved in the topic get a chance to attend the workshop, attendance is based on a short application form accessible at http://punkish.org/geoweb/participate/in_person/index.html. Deadline for applying for the workshop is December 18, 2010. Selected applicants will be informed by January 15, 2011.
Attendees will also be able to submit longer papers for publication in a special issue of the peer-reviewed, completely free and open access online journal “International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure Research” published by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
The workshop is organized in conjunction with the AAG annual meeting. The workshop will be held on the campus of Microsoft Research, and run from 1 PM to 5 PM on Monday, April 11, 2011.
There is no fee for this workshop but registration for the AAG annual meeting is required (note: this is an AAG requirement). The workshop is limited to 50 participants to facilitate discussion.
Proceedings of the workshop and selected longer papers will be published in a special issue of the open-access International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure Research published by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.Comments Off
David Bollier writes in Viral Spiral, “Governments are coming to realize that they are one of the primary stewards of intellectual property, and that the wide dissemination of their work—statistics, research, reports, legislation, judicial decisions—can stimulate economic innovation, scientific progress, education, and cultural development” (192). The collection, creation and publishing of data has been increasingly central to government transparency and interaction with the public. Governments release datasets on census information, weather and geospatial data, food safety and product recall information, and data on foreign commerce and economic aid. In the United States there is now over 300,000 datasets made available to the public for consumption and innovative reuse via website mashups, mobile applications, and other uses.
Earlier this week open data and open government advocates gathered at the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. for the first International Open Government Data Conference. The purpose of the conference was “to gather the community of data owners, developers and policy makers from around the globe to share lessons learned, stimulate new ideas, and demonstrate the power of democratizing data.” The conference hosted a wide variety of speakers, including U.S. leaders like Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and Deputy Chief Technology Officer and Director of the Open Government Initiative Beth Noveck. There was also substantial international participation, including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the W3C and founder of the World Wide Web. Of particular interest to Creative Commons was the participation by Keitha Booth and Richard Best from New Zealand and Anne Fitzgerald and Trevor Smallwood from Australia. New Zealand and Australia have been leaders in using Creative Commons tools in sharing government information and datasets.
The open government movement has been building around the world. In the United States, the most recent catalyst of this work grew out of President Obama’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, which described the overarching principles for government operation: transparency, participation, and collaboration. Obama’s memo lead to the development of the Open Government Directive, charging government agencies to 1) publish government information online, 2) improve the quality of government information, 3) create and institutionalize a culture of open government, and 4) create an enabling policy framework for open government. The United States government efforts are collectively called the Open Government Initiative. Open government data initiatives hinge on the theory that government data should be made available to the taxpayers who paid for its creation.
New Zealand presentations
Keitha Booth is the Program Leader of the Open Government Information and Data Programme in New Zealand. She talked about the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing Framework, or NZGOAL, for short. NZGOAL was developed as a solution to some of the problems the government encountered in sharing its information. NZGOAL recommends the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license by default for works under Crown Copyright and also incorporates “no-known rights” statements for materials free of copyright. Keitha also talked about data.govt.nz, a directory of publicly-available, non-personal New Zealand government datasets. That site is licensed CC BY.
Richard Best, New Zealand Solicitor of Government Technology Services in the Department of Internal Affairs, spoke about the process behind the adoption of NZGOAL. Through consultation with various agencies, Richard discovered that policymakers and staff needed guidance on key aspects of copyright and wanted explicit procedures about how to implement the open licensing framework. He described that while the NZGOAL policies are not mandatory, cabinets and agencies must familiarize themselves with the process. Richard mentioned that while NZGOAL default license is CC BY, other Creative Commons licenses are allowed as long as agencies can justify the additional licensing conditions.
Anne Fitzgerald is Professor in Law Research at the Queensland University of Technology Law School. Anne spoke about the importance of managing rights in the process of opening up government data, and described how the Australian government leverages Creative Commons licensing in its open government framework. At the outset, Anne noted a key distinction between Australian and U.S. law. While works created by the United States Government are free of copyright restrictions within the U.S., the Australian government asserts Crown Copyright over the works it creates. This applies to informational works, research reports and databases, cultural materials, and other public sector information (PSI). Professor Fitzgerald said that the advantages of using Creative Commons licenses are aligned with the government’s recognition of copyright in the materials it creates, while at the same time supporting its open access policy objectives and avoiding financial and technical locks around taxpayer-funded resources.
Trevor Smallwood, Assistant Secretary of Cyber-Security in the Australian Government Information Management Office, spoke about some of the open government and open data initiatives in Australia that leverage Creative Commons licensing. For instance, the Australian Department of Finance and Deregulation releases the budget, government briefs, and data.gov.au content under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Other initiatives such as the Polar Information Commons, Department of Broadband, and Australian Parliament use open licensing too.
Keitha and Trevor’s presentation slides can be downloaded at the conference site or directly (PDF) here. Anne’s presentation slides can be downloaded at the conference site or directly (PDF) here. Richard’s presentation is available here.
We’ve been reporting on how governments have been demonstrating leadership in openness with Creative Commons. In addition to the New Zealand and Australia projects mentioned above, we’ve been collecting other examples on our wiki of how countries and intergovernmental organizations are adopting open licensing and public domain tools to provide increased access to government information and other public sector information. If you know of other initiatives, please add them to this wiki page.Comments Off
The University of Michigan Library now offers content on its website under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. This announcement is significant because the Library had been using the more restrictive Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license. By switching to the Attribution license, the Library has granted more permissions to use, share, and repurpose its research and technology guides, video tutorials, toolkits, copyright education materials, bibliographies, and other resources.
From the press release:
“It seemed that for some people the term ‘noncommercial’ implied ‘anti-commerce.’ That wasn’t the message we wanted to send,” says Melissa Levine, MLibrary’s lead copyright officer. “After some careful consideration, and in consultation with all library personnel, we concluded that dropping the commercial restriction would encourage broader use of our educational resources, which was really our intent when we switched to the Creative Commons license in the first place.”
Mike Linksvayer, vice president of Creative Commons, believes MLibrary to be the first major research library to adopt the CC-BY license. “Many other people and projects have dropped the noncommercial condition from their licenses as they‘ve gotten more comfortable with and reaped the benefits of openness, but the U-M Library is the most prominent so far. As other institutions follow, this leadership will be seen as an important marker in the history of increasing access to and collaboration around educational and research materials.”
Congratulations to MLibrary on its announcement to increase openness by using the Attribution license.Comments Off
You have probably already noticed that through this series of posts we are proceeding along a trend from general high-level questions to the more practical ones of measurement and evaluation. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that our next nuts-and-bolts step is to start touring the different fields in which CC is active and analyzing its separate contribution to each.
Keep in mind, though, the one caveat, that even once we are done with the field-by-field exploration we would still need to think of the “overflow” contribution of CC. In other words, we would still have to measure its multidisciplinary contribution – i.e., the contribution that is made to more than one field at once and the contribution which fashions new fields.
In part, prophesying the future estimation “overflow” contribution is the reason why I decided to begin this run by describing our preliminary thoughts about CC’s contribution to collaboration and sharing. Now because this is so obvious, I probably don’t need to mention this, but I am: “Collaboration and sharing is not your traditional field of operation and so it might have been infinitely easier to begin with art or one of its sub-genres, or even with OER, basic science, or traditional instances of user-generated-content.” This is because the former are considered true-to-life fields of human enterprise, and as such have (some) ready-made measures for evaluation. Collaboration and sharing, on the other hand, are considered as methods of operation and not as fields in and of themselves. This means that as a method, their independent contribution to welfare is almost never considered. And so, not only is there nobody to learn from when it comes to the evaluation of CC’s enhancement of sharing and collaboration, but the merits of this contribution is almost never acknowledged, not even in the abstract way in which we have been accustomed to, considering CC’s contribution.
Still, abstractly, we all understand that collaboration and sharing have considerable independent benefits! This is why its encouragement is a CC goal.
And to break it down a little, hand-wavingly: As methods for creation, collaboration and sharing tie new ties and promote communities by making firmer existing ones, they expand creation, and groups of creators, they allow creation to evolve based on optimal reliance on the shared creativity of the group, and consumers to freely intake those works, in increasing numbers and in greater capacity. To summarize, those are methods that clearly extend the accumulated value of the single works by manifolds. One way to think of the extended contribution of these methods is by thinking of them as an energizing force that promotes creativity as a whole, by empowering each work created through a collaborative process, allowing it to contribute in a way that goes far beyond its direct value.
End of hymn to collaboration and sharing.
Ok, so I hope you agree that referring to sharing and collaboration as a separate area is not merely the right thing to do because they are an independent realm of contribution, but also that it is the practical thing to do for the purposes of gauging CC’s contribution: As mentioned in the second paragraph of this post, CC’s activity creates innovative enterprises across fields and as time goes by, even generates novel ones. If we don’t recognize the energy that allows that to happen – collaboration & sharing, we will have no way of accounting for this budding activity in our evaluation. After all, these processes are in different stages, and they do not yet have sound gauges to estimate their contribution, even once they fully materialize. On the other hand, if we recognize that sharing and collaboration is a method with its own measures, assessing its effectiveness in different circumstances, then at least we shall have a way of referring to this obviously beneficial activity. In other words, measuring the expansion of collaborative energy is key to our ability to foresee and measure completely new creative enterprises, which cannot be accounted for by looking at the trends that the different fields are undergoing.
So now when we are all convinced, I am going to try and get to it.
For the sake of maintaining order, I will repeat what we are trying to do: Under the collaboration & sharing rubric, what is evaluated is the extent to which CC promotes creative communities and collaborative social capacity. Of course, one constant concern while considering the proper metrics, is to be careful of double-counting: Since social collaboration is pertinent to each field, the value that stems from collaborative energy should be separated from the specific contribution to individual cases of creativity. An important across-the-board distinction is between vertical and horizontal collaboration, which has to do with time and intention: Horizontal collaboration means to refer to mutual, close to concurrent creation of the work, while the participants in the creative act are all intending to create a joint output. Vertical collaboration, on the other hand, are cases where the collaboration amounts in the reliance on creative resources that have been produced in separate processes for the creation of a new work. The importance of distinguishing between the two modes is that they are expected to create different types of works, involve different types of collaborators and to generate different amounts of collaborative energy. This all means that they differ in their contribution.
Collaboration & sharing, and they are enhanced by CC’s 3 pillars of contribution
Tool-by-tool, use-by-use, or the transactional contributions:
- Vertical contribution: (a) from the perspective of the original creator: the availability and choice of CC tools facilitate downstream uses and grant the creator with necessary certainty with respect to future uses (b) from the perspective of downstream creators and users: the tools allow the produced work to itself be used as a resource very simply and in a way that can be relied upon.
- Horizontal contribution is assisted by reliance on tools that coordinate the usage according to active participants’ expectations.
The operation of CC as an institution:
- Reassures collaborating actors that the licenses which are being relied upon are interoperable and that efforts of extended interoperability and standardization will be ongoing.
- Reassures collaborating actors that the license choice will be continuously supported and will only gain traction (:Stability).
- Stabilizes, guarantees, and clarifies the licenses’ legal meaning and ensures that all actors’ (a) Reliance interests are protected and that (b) Expectation interests are protected.
- Stabilizes, guarantees, and clarifies the licenses’ social meaning (for partaking actors and future actors) and ensures that all actors’ (a) reliance interests are protected and that (b) their expectation interests are protected and that (C) their reputational interests are promoted.
- Reassures collaborating actors of the existence and proliferation of the CC supporting tools. For example, the search tools for CC works.
- Allows for collaboration to happen between actors of distinct geographical locations and across jurisdictions.
The 3rd pillar’s direct contribution to collaboration:
- CC weighs in on the normative discussion to highlight the merit of sharing and collaborative enterprises and their importance to the general welfare, countering contrary efforts by other institutions.
- Just for the record: the vast positive externalities which the 3rd pillar produces do not allude us. Evidently, the benefits that are produced here are carried over to every activity pertaining to collaboration. Figuring out how to discern the value ultimately induced by CC alone is a challenge which awaits us.
Measuring the Contribution to Collaboration – Quality, Quantity, Variability
As argued earlier, the general importance of social collaboration is found in its ability to charge the existing fields of creative activity with the required energy that would ensure that their measures of quality, quantity and variability improve.
When it comes to quantity, more collaboration is translated into the following: (1) more participants in single creative processes (2) more simultaneous cooperation in a single creative process, and (3) more intake of shared works. From the internal quality perspective, enhanced collaboration means that the cultivation of the creative spark emitted by each collaborator is rendered more efficacious. From the external quality perspective, a collaborative work created in an environment, which appreciates collaboration, will be more useful to the consumers of the work because they will see it as a potential resource. And when it comes to the potential contribution to variability, that translates into new collaborative efforts across fields, within fields and likewise completely novel activities and field-generative ones.
Proposed Measures (including confounders)
So now I am about to propose a set of metrics, aimed towards measuring CC’s contribution to collaboration under the three pillars, and by quantity, quality and variability. Whatever you do with it, don’t treat this list as exhaustive. I am merely trying to demonstrate our general direction, and to maybe instigate some reaction (for example, from YOU):
- Number of CC’d collaborative projects of all types. (account for cross-field cooperation)
- Number of entities involved in each CC’d collaborative project (a) Separately: People, organizations, groups (b) Numbers, percentages
- Type of collaborators involved in each CC’d collaborative project: (a) Lay/professional, (b) Professional: By type, Numbers, Involvement level (size), Geography distribution (real location of contributors, of users),
- Level of cooperation or the depth and breadth of the tree-like infrastructure – i.e. measure the number of reuses or reincarnations of a given CC resource.
- Newness level, on a scale of newness of the CC’d enterprise
- Consumption of each CC’d work: passive use (a) Accessibility measures (b) Consumption levels
- Efficiency increase in the use of the CC’d work (productive use: use as a resource)
- New collaborative applications; addition of new auxiliary tools for CC’d collaboration (and increased use thereof)
- New collaborative enterprises identification tools; search tools, etc. (and increased use thereof)
The breakdown by CC tool is a refinement which isn’t mentioned but is clearly relevant to each.
So far so good. But, even a comprehensive list of these metrics will not be the end of our troubles, because we need to control for non-CC affects on collaboration (confounders). For example, parameters like the general IP environment, legal and social, and the activity of other actors like ones that are operating in the same space as CC, should be carefully discerned. The way to go about it would be to use metrics that will gauge external influence and will thus control for impacts external to CC. So there is an initial list:
- Collaborative projects based on other platforms – across disciplines
- Creative projects that are not collaborative – across disciplines
- IP Lawsuits based on authorship claims
- Legal regime changes that pertain to collaboration
- Technical platforms for collaboration (dynamic changes)
- (other) Legal platforms for collaboration (dynamic changes)
- Government grants for collaborative enterprises (easy separation: government will usually define the license to be used)
The Miraverse is going to double the next $5000 given to Creative Commons! Starting right now, if you donate anything between $5 and $500 to CC, the Miraverse will match every dollar you give. The Miraverse believes no amount is too small and that everyone should give back to Creative Commons, so whatever amount you give to CC right now, your impact will be automatically doubled. Donate quick to make sure your gift gets doubled!
Here’s why the Miraverse supports CC:
The Miraverse is an environment for developing new media productions and reaching new audiences through increased participation at every level and at every step of the creative process. Without the past work–and success–of Creative Commons, there would be no legal basis from which we could presume to proceed. But because of their great work we can begin our venture with the confidence that millions upon millions now understand that copyright need not be the end of creativity, but a potential beginning of an infinite number of wonderful futures. We are delighted to support an organization that has laid the foundation for us, and we accept that the best way to ensure a better future for everything we do is to support those who are doing the best work today.
I’m pleased to introduce Gautam John, one of our exceptional CC Superheroes, who will tell you in his own words why he supports Creative Commons and why you should too. Gautam John is Manager of New Projects at Pratham Books, a children’s book publisher in India that truly embodies a spirit of openness and innovation on the web. They’ve now released 105 children’s books (in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi and Gujarati) as well as loads of delightful illustrations under a CC-BY license so they can easily be shared and even remixed to create new content relevant to other languages and cultures. Here is Pratham’s story. Join Gautam in supporting Creative Commons with a donation today.
“As a children’s book publisher, we have always struggled to be as inclusive as we can. However, as a small non-profit, we do function under severe constraints of time, money and ability to live up to this ideal and it was the Creative Commons model of licensing that allowed us one of our biggest moments of joy — when our books were made available as Braille and Audio Books for print impaired children across the world. Without the Creative Commons licensing model and philosophy, we would not have been able to engage with multiple organizations to help build inclusion and scale.
At Pratham Books, we have a very simple mission – “A Book in Every Child’s Hand” and this drives all of our work and we constantly test what we do against this goal. The mission has two parts, one is to create more reading matter such that there is more available for children to read and the second really is a corollary – that we need to be able to get books to where children need it the most and that the books need to be culturally and linguistically relevant as well.
This is where our challenge lies – to massively scale the production of high quality, low-cost children’s books for a massively multi-lingual and multi-cultural market. Looking at this challenge it is fairly obvious that this is not a problem that any one organization can solve. The solution has to be scalable, flexible and catalyse our fundamental mission as well.
At this point, we realised that there were several internal questions to answer and some of them painfully introspective. Questions as to whether the books we create and distribute have to be a Pratham Book, whether it implied that every book must be paid for by either the reader or an intermediary and, from being a publisher, questions as to whether we are gatekeepers of content or content curators, how we could create infinite good with finite time and resources and most importantly, how we can create more value than we capture?
Having answered most of these questions using “openness” (whereby, we asked ourselves whether allowing unrestricted access to use and re-use our content furthered our mission) as a test and finding that it did fit our mission, the second set of questions to answer was more technical – how, as a small non-profit, do we do this and not find ourselves overwhelmed. It was at this point that we had a moment of realization – that reading is an extremely social activity and that there are communities and organizations who were more than ready to help us achieve our goals.
It was at this juncture that we hit upon the Creative Commons licensing model as one that would help us achieve many of our aims of flexibility, scalability and being able to help catalyse our mission of a book in every child’s hands. In particular, three things stood out – a shared value system of sharing and openness, a community that was deeply embedded in these ideals and, from our perspective, it was scalable because it allowed us to license content to multiple organizations and individuals, both known and unknown, with a one time effort of releasing them under a Creative Commons license as opposed to the traditional model which involves time consuming negotiations and discussions with each known organization or individual who wants to use our content.
As an organization, we did spend some time choosing a license and, from our perspective, a choice between openness and sharing which reduced to a choice between the Attribution and Attribution-Share-Alike license. We have decided that the Attribution license will be our default license with a fall-back to the Attribution-Share-Alike license in cases where needed. It is best said by P2PU “it emerged that our choice lay between two licences: Creative Commons Attribution and Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike …chose to use Creative Commons licences because Creative Commons have become a global standard and are supported by a large international community. Both licences are Free Culture licences and are more permissive than any of the other Creative Commons licences. In other words, the choice was not between two extremes but between two open licences at the same end of the licence spectrum.” Given that our goal was being as open as possible, it followed that our license choices were essentially around licenses that allowed for the greatest possible use and re-use because our initial hypothesis was, and continues to be, that being open allows us to fulfill our mission better than a traditional copyright model allows.
We now use Creative Commons licenses everywhere! We license entire books under CC-BY and CC-BY-SA licenses, we license our illustrations similarly and even photographs and other publicity material too. Over the last year we have been building the foundations for a social publishing model – where we curate communities that are passionate about reading and help us create content. Such a model rests on the idea of a participatory culture and an essential ingredient is a permissive licensing strategy – Creative Commons licenses offers us this, a large community with shared values and an ecosystem to tap in to.
While this licensing and publishing model works well in theory, it has been extremely heartening for us to see it come to life – our communities have created multiple derivative works ranging from iPad and iPhone applications, to porting our works to OLPC laptops, to creating entirely new books from existing illustrations and, my personal favourite, creating versions of our books for the print impaired – from DAISY and Braille books to rich audio books such that our mission truly does encompass every single child.
I firmly believe that we would not have been able to achieve what success we have had without the help of Creative Commons licensing. These licenses and the values that they stand for are vital to building and strengthening a digital commons from which we all benefit. I hope you will consider supporting Creative Commons and licensing content that you own or control such that we all benefit from the growth of the commons.”
Follow Gautam on Twitter.
Special thanks to Maya Hemant from Pratham Books for getting all content (books, images) up online and for managing the Pratham community.
Super Gulliver by BioMed Central / CC BY
This week we are proud to announce that BioMed Central is helping us with our Superhero fundraising campaign by providing us with in-kind advertising space on their network of sites and employing the charms and gab of their feisty mascot Gulliver, the open access turtle.
BioMed Central is a UK-based, for-profit scientific publisher specializing in open access journal publication. Open access is a global movement that is opening up the world’s scholarly journal publications onto the internet, free of charge, where the primary role of copyright is to assure that credit is given where due rather than to restrict the flow of knowledge.
BioMed Central, and its sister companies Chemistry Central and PhysMath Central, publish slightly over 200 scientific journals – and not only do they publish under Creative Commons licenses, they do so under the most liberal license – CC BY. Every single article, every single journal.
By our calculations, BioMed Central is one of the most successful business stories built on CC BY. It was founded in 2000, and has grown rapidly each year which resulted in an acquisition by Springer Science+Business Media in 2008. BioMed Central is a fantastic example of how serious business can be conducted in the digital content industry without applying analog business models.
If you believe that knowledge should be accessible, then join BioMed Central in supporting CC today!Comments Off
Thanks to all who donated this week and had your gift automatically doubled by Hindawi! Your $3000 in donations have become $6000 thanks to Hindawi.
Here’s why the open access scholarly journal publisher supports CC:
“As an open access journal publisher we believe that it is important for our readers to be comfortable reusing and redistributing our articles without fear of violating any copyright restrictions, and Creative Commons licenses make it clear to readers what they can do with our content.”
Many thanks to Hindawi and all those who donated to our fundraising campaign this week. We still need your help to reach our $550,000 goal by December 31 so please donate today and show the world you care about an open, sharing world – online and off!1 Comment »
Sharing becomes a slippery slope when it comes to genomics: we need massive amounts of data in order to understand the human genome, but issues of privacy, abuse, and the distrust of institutions stand in the way. So how do we resolve this?
We talked to Robert Cook-Deegan, the director of the Center for Genomics, Ethics, Law & Policy at Duke University, about how the field of genomics is poised for takeoff, the challenges it faces as it scales, and how CC can step in as a neutral institution that will save the day.
What is the link between GELP and CC?
Genomics is completely dependent on a healthy mutualism between discovery science and practical application, yet the field is rife with conflict and deeply held ideologies and is rarely fertilized with empirical facts. Creative Commons is all about finding solutions that reduce friction in the intellectual property (IP) system and facilitate sharing of data and materials. So our roles are complementary and mutually dependent.
GELP is a corporate sponsor of Creative Commons–why do you think CC is important?
There are many academic centers with talent–we publish our own research at Duke, but we’re just not that good at putting things into action–but Creative Commons is the only place that is actually trying to get things done as a trusted nonprofit intermediary and catalyst.
I’m reminded of the epitaph on Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s grave: “She Saved the World. A Lot.” That’s what CC has begun to do in the world of art and writing; it’s helping save our culture from some of its own worst pathologies. It has the potential to do the same in science.
The field of genomics is poised for takeoff. This is not pure hype. In 1999, there was no published human genome; by 2003 we had a reference human genome; by 2007 Craig Venter and Jim Watson’s genomes were on the Internet. Nature estimates that today, several thousand people have been fully sequenced.
But that information is useless if it is not compared to sequences of other people and organisms. What matters is genetic variation and how that maps to phenotype–whether a person is likely to get a disease or is prone to certain risks. If there was ever a field that depended on network dynamics, this is it. I can’t predict who will make the most valuable contributions to understanding my genome, but I sure want them to do a good job. And they can only do a good job if they have access to lots of other peoples’ genomes. This is hard because many people have the same concerns for privacy, fears of abuse, and distrust of institutions that I do.
How in the world are we going to solve this problem? I don’t know. But I do know that most research institutions and private firms are more concerned with mining what’s under their control already, rather than sharing and creating value collectively. The real value of genomic data is going to require information vastly beyond the control of any single institution.
We need Creative Commons because it is a trusted intermediary non-profit institution that will enable the dangerous dark innovation jungle to thrive despite the entrenched ideologies and conflicting interests of all the critters that live in it. We’re depending on you. May the force be with you.
Join Robert and GELP in supporting Creative Commons and help ensure a bright future for sharing in the field of genomics by donating to CC today!Comments Off
CC BY by Joi
The Global Education Conference is a week-long, online event hosting keynotes and various education tracks to “significantly increase opportunities for globally-connecting education activities and initiatives.” CC board Vice Chair, Esther Wojcicki, will give a keynote on “How to Spread Your Ideas Globally Using Creative Commons Licenses,” focusing on how CC licenses promote global sharing in education. The keynote is scheduled for November 15 at 10am PST and will be broadcast live via Elluminate. There is no need to register for the conference which will be held all next week, November 15-19. For a preview of Esther’s and other talks, see http://www.globaleducationconference.com/keynotes.html.2 Comments »