Posted on May 28, 2007 in n2y2, nptech by Sarah DaviesComments Off

Went to the NetSquared reception this evening. What an incredible group of people! I personally talked to folks from Freecycle, Democracy Player, HELP, and YouthAssets. These are amazing people. Many of them have only recently gotten 501c3 status, and are pursuing these projects on their own time. I thought I was the only person in the world doing that, but I met several people tonight who have contributed endless dollars and hours to their causes just because they believe that the world needs to change! I’m not alone!

I am greatly looking forward to meeting more of you all in the next two days, and I really enjoyed talking to those of you whom I met. You are really committed, socially conscious, tech-savvy people who are trying very hard to improve lives.

When we first walked into the hotel, we saw a bunch of people with stickers on their laptops sitting in the lobby to get the free wifi, and Brian said, “I think we’ve found our tribe”. And how!

Posted on May 28, 2007 in Uncategorized by Sarah DaviesComments Off

Yesterday we did a panel in Portland on Creative Commons and the Future of Digital Freedom. It went very well. We met musicians, photographers, zine producers, and general tech junkies.

We decided to give a broad ten minute overview of IP and then open it up for questions. We had prepared a lot more material in case they didn’t have questions, but they were well informed over the topic and the panel became a two hour discussion of how to open up content and where technology is headed. It was fabulous!

We gave out lots of stickers and buttons too!

Posted on May 15, 2007 in Uncategorized by Sarah DaviesComments Off

In a triumph for information freedom, a group of Stanford students has released a Firefox plug-in called myEbayFox. The plug-in blocks all adds on eBay, and allows users to see thumbnails of items as they search, even if the seller hasn’t paid eBay to show thumbnails in its searches. EBay has been working on its own Firefox extension for sometime, called Firefox eBay Edition, but that extension is still in beta, and merely keeps the user logged in and validates that they are at the genuine eBay page, and not a spoof site.

Take heed, young startups. If the information your users want is difficult to access, they will find a perfectly legal way to make it easily accessible. If your ads are annoying and intrusive, users will find a perfectly legal way to block them. Listen to your users! Give them what they want, or they will take it!

Posted on May 10, 2007 in Uncategorized by Sarah DaviesComments Off

Joining the hip new Jobs-led crowd of anti-DRM executives, HBO’s Chief Technology Officer, Bob Zitter, said in a panel last week “I don’t want to use the term DRM any longer”. Which is great, except that he doesn’t want to get rid of the technologies that break your computer and stop you from copying your own stuff. He just wants to start referring to those technologies as DCE or Digital Consumer Enablement.

Sound Orwellian to anyone else? I can’t make up PR this bad, read all about it.

Posted on May 9, 2007 in crazy right wingers, DMCA, EFF by Sarah DaviesComments Off

EFF is defending conservative blogger Michelle Malkin‘s right to criticize a profane non-god-fearing hip hop artist… How long until her corporate overlords ostracize her for fraternizing with the enemy?

In honor of their new expansion, the Seattle Art Museum was open all night last Saturday. Freedom for IP and friends decided to visit in the wee hours of the morning. The new expansion is beautiful and huge, and we all soon lost each other. Brian got out his phone to call me and find out where I was, and was promptly admonished by a guard for taking pictures of copyrighted works. The guards had clearly been put on high alert to watch out for camera phones.The exchange went something like this:

“you can’t take pictures here”
“I wasn’t… why can’t I take pictures here?”
“these works are under copyright, we do not have permissions to allow people to take pictures”
(Brian was in a section of 16th – 18th century paintings)
“this artwork?” *looks at plaque* “from 1623, is under copyright?”
“I’m afraid so”
“This work couldn’t possibly be under copyright, all work created before 1923 is in the public domain”
“I’m sorry, you’re just not allowed to take pictures”
“why? is there anyone who can explain this policy to me?”
“just a moment, I’ll find a manager for you”
At this point a series of badged people had a little pow-wow and another one walked over. I heard Brian’s voice, and came over and Brian and I had a short discussion about the artistic value of the wall behind the painting, and whether that might be copyrightable.
“It’s a copyright issue, we can’t give you permission to take pictures”
“did I sign a contract giving away my rights to take pictures of things in the public domain?”
*guard looks confused*
“I’ll find you the contact number of someone who can better explain our policy”
Then the guard disappeared for several minutes and came back with the general information line for the art museum. Brian called the number, worked through a maze of automated directories, having nothing to do with copyrights, contracts, or rights of publicity. Brian then proceeded to go around taking pictures with his camera phone until it died, and then he pretended to take pictures until another guard stopped him.
“you can’t take pictures here”
“why can’t I take pictures? These works are in the public domain! Am I harming anything? I’m not using a flash.”
“the artist haven’t given rights for individuals to take pictures”
“do you have a list of what rights the artists have given?”
“hmm… I don’t know”
The guard went and got the same supervisor Brian spoke to earlier.
“your number didn’t work”
“oh, you should call back during normal business hours, there’s no one present here who can answer your questions”
We were then encouraged to end our viewing experience after another of our friends managed to climb inside a modern piece that looked like a shiny coat without actually touching it.

I think that experience was a representation of everything that is wrong with our copyright system. The people who are enforcing it don’t understand it. It is used as a catch-all prohibition for anything that people want to stop you from doing with art. The people making the policies aren’t accessible and know nothing about open content models. Real people are stopped from sharing photos of art that they find moving because of guards enforcing a non-existant copyright!