Thursday, July 29, 2010

Open Science : A Sociology of Information Topic par excellence

Conference at Berkeley this weekend on changing the way we think about scientific knowledge

From the conference website

Open Science Summit 2010: Updating the Social Contract for Science

July 29-31 International House Berkeley
Synthetic Biology, Gene Patents, Open Data, Open Access, Microfinance for Science, DIY science, DIY Biology, Alternative Funding for Science, Open Source Drugs, Patent Pools, Open Health/Medicine, Patient Advocacy for Innovation

"Ready for a rapid, radical reboot of the global innovation system for a truly free and open 21st century knowledge economy? Join us at the first Open Science Summit, an attempt to gather all stakeholders who want to liberate our scientific and technological commons to enable an new era of decentralized, distributed innovation to solve humanity's greatest challenges."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Few Limits on Copyright

Until a few days ago, most of us did not know that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 empowers/requires the Librarian of Congress to "determine whether there are any classes of works that will be subject to exemptions from the statute’s prohibition against circumvention of technology that effectively controls access to a copyrighted work" (U.S. Copyright Office 2010). But it does.

And here's what's changed as a result of James H. Billington's tri-ennial interpretation.

(1) College professors (in general) and students (in film and media studies, at least) can circumvent DVD security measures to include snippets of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment for educational purposes. A similar exemption exists for documentary filmmaking and noncommercial videos.

(2) You can hack programs on your phone if the purpose is to get programs you have legally obtained to work together. This is interpreted to mean you can "jailbreak" an iPhone and load non-Apple apps.

(3) You can hack programs on your phone if the purpose is connect it to a telecommunications network you are authorized to connect to. In other words, you can hack your Iphone so it works on Verizon.

(4) You can hack a video game you own if it's just for testing or fixing security flaws as long as you don't use the information you get from the process to help folks violate copyright.

(5) If you own software that's protected by a dongle and you can't use it because the dongle is broken and no replacement available then you can hack the software to get around the dongle.

(6) If you have an ebook and all existing ebook editions disable read-aloud, then you can hack it to make it read-aloud. In other words, if the copyright owner doesn't offer to sell a read-aloud enabled version then you can break the controls that prevent read-aloud on a copy you own. Note that it seems that the publisher could offer for sale a million dollar read-aloud-enabled version to get around this. Presumably, the exception won't unravel retroactively -- the question will be was the read-aloud-enabled version available on the day you hacked the control.


U.S. Copyright Office. 2010. "Statement of the Librarian of Congress Relating to Section 1201 Rulemaking."

Wortham, Jenna. 2010. "In Ruling on iPhones, Apple Loses a Bit of Its Grip," New York Times July 26.