BCS: Is It Time For Copyright 2.0?

The British Computer Society (BCS) asks, Is It Time For Copyright 2.0?

The piece summarises and links to Lawrence Lessig’s WSJ article, In Defense of Piracy and says:

In the meantime, I think the best way forward may also benefit from the idea that, in a global digital content economy, (where content flows easily across national boundaries), we should seek to implement and embrace a global framework for copyright, in order to lessen the reliance on national systems that far too often add undue complexity to the notionally simple concept of Intellectual Property. This is, in many ways, similar to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown’s call for an overhaul of the global financial regulatory system that would better serve the needs of a global financial economy. Perhaps the copyright system should also take heed before it suffers a similar fate.

Open data, the BBC, and ‘the virality and interconnectedness of the web’

Not surprisingly for an article titled ‘The BBC can be an open source for all of UK plc‘, there’s a particular focus on possible commercial applications or start-ups building services around BBC content or code, but it’s also a good overview of current discussions and of the possibilities that opening up cultural heritage content for re-use and re-mixing might provide.

The article acknowledges the ‘complex rights issues’ around the digitisation of some content, and I suspect this one of the main issues that’s preventing the museum sector opening up more of its data, but it’s not the only one.

How do we move forward? Can we develop a UK-specific licence that allows for concerns about the viability of commercial picture library services and for objects without clear copyright and reproduction rights statements? Should we develop and lobby for the use of new metrics that make off-site visits and engagement with content count? Do we still need to convince our organisations that it’s worth doing this, and worth putting resources behind?

How do we strike a balance between the need for caution that prevents the reputation or finances of an organisation being put at risk and the desire for action? Will the list of reasons why we’re not doing it grow before it shrinks?

On to the article, as the BBC’s work in this area may provide some answers:

The [BBC’s] director general Mark Thompson has directed the corporation to think beyond proprietary rights management to a new era of interoperability that offers consumers wider choice, control and benefits from “network effects” – the virality and interconnectedness of the web.

Steve Bowbrick, recently commissioned to initiate a public debate about openness at the corporation, thinks empowerment could be as important as the traditional Reithian mantra, “Educate, inform and entertain.”

“The broadcast era is finished,” he says. “The BBC needs to provide web tools and a new generation of methods and resources that will boost [its] capital, but that will also use the BBC as a platform for promoting the individuals, organisations and businesses that make up UK plc.”

This post is very much me ‘thinking out loud’ – I’d love to hear your comments, particularly on why we’re not yet and how we can start to expose museum collections and information to the ‘virality [vitality?] and interconnectedness of the web’.

Freebase meetup, London, August 20

As she explains on the Freebase blog, Kirrily from Freebase will be in London for a little while this month and she’d having an informal meet up with Freebase users and those who might be interested to learn more about it:

We’ll be meeting at the Yorkshire Grey Pub in Holborn from 6:30pm, having a few drinks, and talking about open data, building communities around free information, mashups, and more. If you’re interested, please stop by. There’ll be free wifi available, so bring your laptops if you’ve got them.

You can RSVP on upcoming.org. I’m going because I think Freebase could be really useful for a personal project but also because it’s another way of helping people make the most of their digital heritage.

If you don’t know much about Freebase, or haven’t seen it lately, this video on Parallax, their new browsing interface should give you a pretty good idea of how useful it can be for cultural heritage and natural history data. It’s 8 minutes long, and it’s really worth taking the time to watch particularly for the maps and timelines, but if you’re pressed for time then skip the first two minutes.

You can also get more background at The Future of the Web or Freebase: Dispelling The Skepticism. There are lots of possibilities for museums, archaeology and other cultural content so come along for a chat and a pint.

[Update: if you’re not in London but have some questions about Freebase and digital heritage that you think might be useful for discussion or need some context to explain, drop me a line via the form on miaridge.com and I’ll take them along.]

What would you create with public (UK) information?

Show Us a Better Way want to know, and if your idea is good they might give you £20,000 to develop it to the next level.

Do you think that better use of public information could improve health, education, justice or society at large?

The UK Government wants to hear your ideas for new products that could improve the way public information is communicated.

Importantly, you don’t need to be a geek:

You don’t have to have any technical knowledge, nor any money, just a good idea, and 5 minutes spare to enter the competition.

And they’ve made “gigabytes of new or previously invisible public information” available for the project, including health, crime and education data (but no personal information).