Friday, January 31, 2014

Can The Open-Data Revolution Change Our Democracies?; NPR/TED Staff, 1/31/14

NPR/TED Staff; Can The Open-Data Revolution Change Our Democracies? :
"About Beth Noveck's TEDTalk
Former White House deputy CTO shares her vision of practical openness: connecting bureaucracies to citizens, sharing data, and creating a truly participatory democracy.
About Beth Noveck
Beth Noveck explores what "open government" really means — not just freeing data from databases, but creating meaningful ways for citizens to collaborate with their governments. She served as the first U.S. deputy chief technology officer and director of the White House Open Government Initiative, which developed policy on transparency, participation and collaboration."

Artist Files Suit Over Missing Empire State Building Paintings; New York Times, 1/31/14

Randy Kennedy, New York Times; Artist Files Suit Over Missing Empire State Building Paintings:
"The paintings, by the New York artist Kysa Johnson, were commissioned by the building’s owners and installed in 2000. But last year, art collectors visiting the building to see the pieces could not find them and told Ms. Johnson, who asked the building’s current owner, the Empire State Realty Trust, what had happened to them. According to a lawsuit the artist filed this week in federal court in New York, the trust told her that the paintings “could not be located, were likely destroyed and therefore could not be returned to” her.
The suit — which says that Ms. Johnson retained ownership of the paintings under her commissioning contract — is unusual because it is not simply a property-loss case but is being pursued under the Visual Artists Rights Act, a copyright protection put into place in 1991 that safeguards the moral rights of artists against distortion, mutilation or destruction of their work."

Playwright Sues to Salvage Play Deconstructing ‘Three’s Company’; New York Times, 1/30/14

Patrick Healy, New York Times; Playwright Sues to Salvage Play Deconstructing ‘Three’s Company’ :
"The New York playwright David Adjmi, best known for Off Broadway satirical works like “Marie Antoinette,” went to federal court on Thursday to try to salvage his play “3C,” which has been tied up by the copyright owner of “Three’s Company,” the landmark television comedy that Mr. Adjmi deconstructs through a dark lens in “3C.”
In a 20-page complaint, which was accompanied by supportive comments from acclaimed theater artists like Jon Robin Baitz, Tony Kushner and Stephen Sondheim, Mr. Adjmi asked the Southern District Court of New York to declare that “3C” does not infringe on the copyright of “Three’s Company,” which ran from 1977 to 1984 and remains in syndication. Mr. Adjmi’s lawyers, citing the First Amendment and the legal doctrine of fair use, argue that “3C” is an original parody that only borrows some elements from the sitcom to examine its premise, character types, and homophobia and sexism in that era...
Mr. Adjmi’s lawyers cite multiple examples of parodies that were protected under the fair use doctrine, including the novel “The Wind Done Gone” (which re-tells much of “Gone With the Wind” from a slave’s perspective) and a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that featured a tourism jingle from Biblical times, “I Love Sodom,” sung to the tune of “I Love New York.” Plays like “Mr. Burns” (which uses elements from “The Simpsons”) and “Dog Sees God” (a parody of the Peanuts cartoons) have also successfully avoided copyright problems by taking personality traits and references from the original material and presenting them in wholly new ways."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Anant Agarwal: Why massively open online courses (still) matter; TED Talk via YouTube, 1/27/14

TED Talk via YouTube; Anant Agarwal: Why massively open online courses (still) matter:
"2013 was a year of hype for MOOCs (massively open online courses). Great big numbers and great big hopes were followed by some disappointing first results. But the head of edX, Anant Agarwal, makes the case that MOOCs still matter -- as a way to share high-level learning widely and supplement (but perhaps not replace) traditional classrooms. Agarwal shares his vision of blended learning, where teachers create the ideal learning experience for 21st century students."

Is the White House trying to blow up an open data bill?; Washington Post, 1/29/14

Andrea Peterson, Washington Post; Is the White House trying to blow up an open data bill? :
"The White House has previously expressed support for open data -- even issuing an executive order and open data policy requiring that data generated by the government in the future be made available in open, machine-readable formats. But a group of for-profit and nonprofit organizations called the Data Transparency Coalition says a leaked Office of Management and Budget version of their biggest legislation initiative, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act or DATA Act, shows the administration trying to water down the legislation.
The DATA Act aims to standardize and publish a wide variety of U.S. government reports and data related to financial management, assistance and procurement. A version of the bill passed the House unanimously in 2012 and again on a vote of 388 to 1 in November 2013. But the bill did not make it to the floor in the Senate. Now Federal News Radio has leaked a document showing that the OMB wants to remove requirements for standardized formats, eliminate a mandate to make all data available from the same source and significantly delay implementation."

Prince drops $22M copyright suit against Facebook fans; CNet, 1/29/14

Dara Kerr, CNet; Prince drops $22M copyright suit against Facebook fans:
"The pop artist Prince is known for getting sue-crazy when it comes to copyright infringement of his work, but when he filed a $22 million lawsuit against some of his die-hard fans, it seemed he might have gone too far. Apparently, the artist has now dropped the suit, according to TMZ...
Despite the apparent difficulty in proving the case, Prince's lawyer told TMZ that the reason the suit was dropped was because the alleged infringers had stopped "engaging in piracy.""

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Can open data improve GPs' take-up of innovations?; Guardian, 1/29/14

Kathleen Stokes, Guardian; Can open data improve GPs' take-up of innovations? :
"It's no secret that the world has woken up to the revolutionary potential of using data in the NHS and public services more generally. Whether big, open or personal, data can now help us predict patient readmission to hospital and identify potential cost savings for GP prescriptions. So how are these innovations impacting in our GP practices?
Nesta has worked with the centre for the advancement of sustainable medical innovation and Mastodon C to learn more about the take up of innovations by GP practices in England. Our starting point was the assumption that open data – data made freely available to anyone – can help us to better understand what is already taking place.
In our new report Which Doctors Take up Promising Ideas? New Insights from Open Data, we wanted to explore how making use of open data can help people understand trends and differences in service within primary care. Our research charts where, when and which GP practices across England have implemented promising innovations. It shows varied uptake of certain proven drugs, technologies and practices by GP surgeries.
The findings are exploratory but promising. They highlight several trends around how GP practices identify, decide upon and actually take up different innovations."

Pete Seeger, a Folk Revivalist Who Used His Voice to Bring Out a Nation’s; New York Times, 1/28/14

Jon Pareles, New York Times; Pete Seeger, a Folk Revivalist Who Used His Voice to Bring Out a Nation’s:
"Although Mr. Seeger summed up Vietnam-era frustration when he wrote “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” and created a lasting antiwar parable with “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” he wasn’t simply a protest singer or propagandist. Like his father, the musicologist Charles Seeger, and his colleague the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, Pete Seeger was devoted to songs that had been passed on through generations of people singing and playing together. He was determined — in an era when recording was rarer and broadcasting limited — to get those songs heard and sung anew, lest they disappear.
That put him at the center of the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s, in all its idealism, earnestness and contradictions. Collectors found songs that had archetypal resonance, sung in unpretty voices and played with regional quirks, and transcribed them to be learned from sheet music. The folk revival prized authenticity — the work song recorded in prison, the fiddle tune recorded on a back porch — and then diluted it as the making of amateur collegiate strum-alongs. Mr. Seeger and his fellow folk revivalists freely adapted old songs to new occasions, using durable old tunes to carry topical thoughts, speaking of a “folk tradition” of communal authorship and inevitable change. They would warp a song to preserve it. (In succeeding years, copyright problems could and did ensue.)"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tarantino Sues Gawker for Posting Film Script; New York Times, 1/28/14

Michael Cieply, New York Times; Tarantino Sues Gawker for Posting Film Script:
"Quentin Tarantino filed a suit against Gawker Media, accusing the web news service of illegally posting on its Defamer site a link to his unproduced script titled “The Hateful Eight,” The Hollywood Reporter said on Monday."

Librarians Protest Canada Cutbacks; Chronicle of Higher Education via New York Times, 1/26/14

Karen Birchard and Jennifer Lewington, Chronicle of Higher Education via New York Times; Librarians Protest Canada Cutbacks:
"A move by the Canadian government to shrink the number of its departmental research libraries is drawing fire from some academics, who fear a loss of data and trained personnel and damage to the country’s ability to carry out research.
The closing of seven regional libraries in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the quiet elimination of more than two dozen libraries in other departments, might otherwise have passed largely unnoticed, given the modest cost savings...
Gail Shea, head of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, or D.F.O., adamantly denied any book burning. “Our government values these collections and will continue to strongly support it by continuing to add new material on an ongoing basis,” she said in a statement. “All materials for which D.F.O. has copyright will be preserved by the department.”
Despite such assurances, some academic researchers and librarians remain skeptical.
“My overwhelming feeling is that we don’t know exactly what some of the ramifications are for my future research or other people’s research because of the nonsystematic way it has been done,” said John Reynolds, a professor of aquatic ecology at Simon Fraser University who uses federal government fisheries data on British Columbia streams for his study of salmon sustainability.
He questioned why the government had failed to publish an inventory of library materials before and after the downsizing, including documents not covered by copyright."

Prince sues Facebook fans who shared links to live performances for copyright infringment [sic]; Belfast Telegraph, 1/27/14

Jess Denham, Belfast Telegraph; Prince sues Facebook fans who shared links to live performances for copyright infringment [sic]:
"Pop icon Prince is suing fans who posted his live performances on Facebook or blogs - to the tune of £605,000 each.
The "Purple Rain" singer filed a copyright lawsuit on 16 January in the Northern District of California, targeting 22 individuals he believes have committed "massive infringement and bootlegging" of his copyright...
A strong opposer of digital distribution, Prince famously stated his belief that "the internet is completely over" in 2010. He regularly forces video streaming websites such as YouTube and Vine to take down fan-uploaded footage of his concerts."

Friday, January 24, 2014

'New Girl' sued for copyright infringement; Entertainment Weekly, 1/22/14

Erin Strecker, Entertainment Weekly; 'New Girl' sued for copyright infringement:
"Fox’s New Girl is being accused of plagiarism, EW has confirmed.
According to court papers filed Jan. 16, Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold are suing New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwether, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, Peter Chernin, Jacob Kasdan, and Twenty-First Century Fox for copyright infringement.
In the lawsuit, which EW has obtained, Counts and Gold allege that prior to New Girl, they had a script for a pilot for their show hopeful Square One, which was met with favorable interest in the industry, but they weren’t able to make a deal."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How Government Can Make Open Data Work; InformationWeek, 1/22/14

Joel Gurin, InformationWeek; How Government Can Make Open Data Work:
"Will 2014 finally become the year of open data? We're certainly seeing evidence that open data is moving from the margins into the mainstream, with new uses for data that governments and other sources are making freely available to the public.
But if we're going to see open data's promise fulfilled, it will be important for governments, and the federal government in particular, to make it easier for the public to access and use their open data.
I've described open data as "accessible public data that people, companies, and organizations can use to launch new ventures, analyze patterns and trends, make data-driven decisions, and solve complex problems." As Bethann Pepoli recently wrote in InformationWeek, cities around the US are starting to embrace open data as a tool for good government and civic innovation.
The federal government is doing the same. The Obama administration has begun implementing its Open Data Policy, announced last May, which calls for government agencies to make their data open by default and work with companies and nonprofits to put the data to use. The most recent example occurred last week with the White House hosting two days of "datapaloozas" to encourage entrepreneurs, developers, and nonprofit organizations to apply government safety and education data.
I've participated in and studied the open data movement for the last three years. I've drawn on that experience and dozens of interviews for a new book I've written, Open Data Now. The book is meant to reach beyond a tech audience by illustrating how open data is impacting government policies and practices, innovation, consumer advocacy, and more. And as I learned in my research, open data's broadest impact may be as a kind of natural resource for business."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Government calls on coders to churn out apps using open data; Vancouver Sun, 1/22/14

Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun; Government calls on coders to churn out apps using open data:
Canada's federal government has an abundance of data, and is asking Canadian software programmers and innovators to figure out how to best use it...
In the first country wide open-data hackathon, dubbed CODE - Canadian Open Data Experience - Ottawa is calling on the nation's computing and design talent to use the government's open data to create apps that will help Canadians...
The 48-hour hackathon starts at 5 p.m. on Feb. 28 and ends at 5 p.m. on March 2. Participants can attend the CODE VIP Hub in Toronto on Feb. 28, or take part virtually - from homes, schools, universities and coffee shops across Canada. The government's Open Data portal was launched last year at

3-D Printing Moves Closer to the Mainstream; New York Times, 1/20/14

1/20/14, New York Times; 3-D Printing Moves Closer to the Mainstream:
As I’ve written in the past, all this newfangled 3-D printing will bring with it newfangled copyright issues. The entire concept of ownership and copyright is up for grabs since 3-D objects cannot be copyrighted the same way music, videos and art can be...
“Copyright doesn’t necessarily protect useful things,” Michael Weinberg, a senior staff lawyer at Public Knowledge, a digital advocacy group in Washington, told me in 2011 when 3-D printing was still on the fringes. “If an object is purely aesthetic it will be protected by copyright, but if the object does something, it is not the kind of thing that can be protected.”

U.S. justices referee 'Raging Bull' copyright fight; Reuters, 1/21/14

Lawrence Hurley, Reuters; U.S. justices referee 'Raging Bull' copyright fight:
"U.S. Supreme Court justices sparred on Tuesday over how to resolve a copyright dispute concerning an early screenplay for what became the iconic boxing movie "Raging Bull."...
The court is hearing a claim brought by Paula Petrella, daughter of deceased screenwriter Frank Petrella. She says MGM Holdings Inc and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment owe her money for infringing the copyright of a 1963 screenplay upon which she alleges the movie was based. Fox, a subsidiary of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is a defendant because it has the rights to distribute MGM movies on DVD...
The legal question is whether MGM can argue in its defense that Petrella, who sued in 2009, waited too long to assert her claim."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pittsburgh's data guru Meixell is ready; first challenge is 311 system; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/19/14

Moriah Balingit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pittsburgh's data guru Meixell is ready; first challenge is 311 system:
"During his campaign and his first days in office, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto talked enthusiastically about how data -- big data, open data, performance-based budgeting -- will transform city governance.
Now that the rhetorical rubber must hit the road, he has put a face on that initiative: 28-year-old Laura Meixell, whom he hired as the city's first data and analytics manager. Ms. Meixell, a native of Bethlehem, Pa., has applied her savvy with data to help manage everything from Louisville's overcrowded jails to studying an invasive ant species in Hawaii...
On Tuesday, about two weeks before she settled into Bloomfield, Ms. Meixell stood alongside Mr. Peduto and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak in announcing the city's first Open Data Ordinance, which the councilwoman proposed at that day's council meeting. If passed, the ordinance would lead to the creation of a new city website that would host reams of previously unavailable or hard-to-access data on everything from crime to potholes to 311 calls.
It's information that would be useful both for residents who want an inside look at city government and for policymakers who could use the data to inform how they marshal resources...
Ms. Meixell, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, got an early start in public service."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sarah Palin loses bid to move copyright lawsuit against her to Alaska; New York Daily News, 1/20/14

Daniel Beekman, New York Daily News; Sarah Palin loses bid to move copyright lawsuit against her to Alaska:
"Newspaper publisher North Jersey Media Group sued Palin and her political action committee in Manhattan Federal Court last September, claiming copyright infringement over the use of an iconic 9/11 photograph...Manhattan Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein instead moved the case to where the plaintiff is located, New Jersey Federal Court, in a ruling Friday. The photo in question depicts three New York City firefighters hoisting an American flag on the rubble at Ground Zero."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nearly All German National Library Metadata Now Available Under CC0 License; Library Journal, 1/16/14

Gary Price, Library Journal; Nearly All German National Library Metadata Now Available Under CC0 License:

Congress Passes Spending Bill Requiring Free Access to Publicly Funded Research; Library Journal, 1/17/14

Gary Price, Library Journal; Congress Passes Spending Bill Requiring Free Access to Publicly Funded Research:
From Creative Commons Both the U.S. House of Representative and Senate have passed the 2014 omnibus appropriations legislation. President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly. What’s so special about this legislation? Federal agencies with research budgets of at least $100 million per year will be required provide the public with free online access to scholarly articles generated with federal funds no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Books go online for free in Norway; Telegraph, 1/16/14

Martin Chilton, Telegraph; Books go online for free in Norway:
More than 135,000 books still in copyright are going online for free in Norway after an innovative scheme by the National Library ensured that publishers and authors are paid for the project. The copyright-protected books (including translations of foreign books) have to be published before 2000 and the digitising has to be done with the consent of the copyright holders. National Library of Norway chief Vigdis Moe Skarstein said the project is the first of its kind to offer free online access to books still under copyright, which in Norway expires 70 years after the author's death...
The books are available in Norway at the site ("bookshelf" in Norwegian) but access is limited to internet users in Norway (and foreign researchers) and the books cannot be downloaded. Some authors or publishing firms have objected but only 3,500 books have been removed from the list and most of these have been school textbooks.

Copyright Week; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 1/13-1/18/14

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Copyright Week:

Friday, January 17, 2014

The End of Ownership: Why You Need to Fight America’s Copyright Laws;, 1/17/14

Kyle Wiens,; The End of Ownership: Why You Need to Fight America’s Copyright Laws: "Copyright is like the many-headed, hostile-when-provoked hydra. And just like a hydra, chopping off one head — solving one issue — won’t work. Congress could legalize unlocking phones on Monday, tablets on Tuesday, cars on Wednesday, and a different gizmo every day from now until the end of week let alone year. It won’t matter. The day after that, there will be yet another new computerized product, a new thing with code for its connective tissue. As long as “The Law of Electronic Eventuality” marches on, and as long as companies can make money by keeping users out of their own stuff, they will … and so copyright law will never catch up. Our current copyright laws clearly don’t account for the role technology plays in our lives. But I was born a tinkerer, so I believe that with enough energy, ingenuity, and passion, anything can be fixed — and I mean that both metaphorically and literally (with our right to repair). If we want to preserve consumer rights against copyright power grabs, we’ll have to aim at the heart of the hydra. We can’t afford to wait another 40 years for Congress make a new copyright law. It has to happen now; here’s how."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pittsburgh councilwoman Rudiak introduces open data bill; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/14/14

Moriah Balingit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pittsburgh councilwoman Rudiak introduces open data bill: "Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak announced a proposal Tuesday to make a wealth of information -- from the location of potholes, to building permits, to paving schedules -- available to the public on a new city website and for consumption by the tech community who could transform the data into useful apps. Following a morning new conference, Ms. Rudiak introduced before council the Open Data Ordinance, a piece of legislation that will not only lay the groundwork for the new initiative, but could change the way citizens access public data altogether. "We want to blow the doors of this building open to provide information," Mr. Peduto said."

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dude, You Can’t Copyright That Hookah;, 1/9/14

David Kravets,; Dude, You Can’t Copyright That Hookah: "A California hookah pipe maker’s copyright infringement lawsuit against a rival went up in smoke today when a federal appeals court ruled that hookahs are not copyrightable. The appellate decision is believed to be the first concerning the shape of the smoking instrument’s water container. Inhale Inc. claimed Starbuzz Tobacco was infringing its base design registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2011... The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed the suit today, agreeing with a lower-court judge that the pipe’s base cannot be copyrighted... Under copyright law, the water container is considered a “useful article,” the court wrote."

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The copyright case: Sherlock Holmes at the center of legal debate; Associated Press via CBS News, 1/3/14

Associated Press via CBS News; The copyright case: Sherlock Holmes at the center of legal debate: ""Whatever decision they make will essentially determine the fate of many characters, not just Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but very intricate characters such as James Bond. ... What happens as copyrights expire on Ian Fleming's original stories?" said Doyle estate attorney William Zieske. The ruling could also weaken the value of the Sherlock franchise to the point that major publishers and movie producers could also decide to move ahead with projects without licensing deals, said Paul Supnik, a Beverly Hills, California, attorney specializing in copyright and entertainment law who was not connected with the case. "At the very least it's going to affect the bargaining power as to what the estate can do in trying to sell it to the studio," Supnik said. At the heart of the dispute is whether a character can be copyright protected over an entire series of works."