Posted on October 24, 2007 in creative commons, IP, nonprofits, NTEN by Brian RoweComments Off

I just finished doing NTEN’s online survey for 2008 NTC Agenda. I was surprised to not see a single topic or part of a topic that dealt with online copyright issues. When distributing information online ones IP strategy should play a central role in letting users know what they can do with your content and what happens to their contribution. SecondLife, Myspace, Wikipedia, Flickr and YouTube all have different ways of controlling and enabling distribution through IP choices.

I would love to run a session on using Creative Commons and alternative licensing of intellectual property to reach more constituents and more people in need. Using a culture of sharing as a form of distribution can empower your IP to work for you. If you are attending NTC this year and would find a copyright session useful please let NTEN know.

Posted on February 8, 2007 in microsoft, nonprofits, nptech, open source by Sarah DaviesComments Off

As TechSoup just announced that they will be offering Vista and Word 2007 to nonprofits for about $20 a license, I feel this is an appropriate time to talk about the moral implications of purchasing these products.

There are many reasons to discourage nonprofits from accepting donated software from Microsoft. Most nonprofits exist because they are trying to make the world a better place. Most nonprofit employees apply their own morals to their purchases. We buy recycled paper. We buy fair trade coffee. Software has moral implications behind it as well. Microsoft has refused to allow others to customize or edit their software. They have refused to share their knowledge with the rest of the community. They use monopolistic practices to discourage innovation. They routinely hire contract employees and require them to take periods of time off unpaid to avoid paying them benefits.

For these reasons, I strongly encourage you to examine Open Source options. Free software is not called free simply because it doesn’t cost anything. It is free because anyone can use it, build on it, customize it, change it, and share it. Thousands of volunteer developers have spent their time building these tools. The software is better and easier to use because it is built by software users for software users, not by contract employees without benefits designing for profit.

One of the tools available is Open Office at Another is Ubuntu at Many people in the tech community help nonprofits out with these tools on a daily basis in tech forums. If you feel especially uncomfortable with them, and want someone to hold your hand all the way through, consider Red Hat at; they charge for the service of implementing and customizing open source software built by volunteers. I’ve spoken to some open source developers, and they’ve told me that they do it because they want to help the world, and if you go to their forums they will answer your questions (and they won’t charge you $30/hour like Microsoft). Moreover, these tools are updated more often than proprietary software, and the updates are free of charge.

Doesn’t that sound better?