VALA 2008 Conference – Day 2 – Michael Geist – Plenary

Michael Geist – Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-Commerce Law, University of Ottawa
“Unlocking access: in support of a hands-on Internet policy”

Early days of the web (90s) were seen as a hands-off time for government, leaving it to the practitioners and users.  However, government and policy have always been a part of the internet.

Internet 2008: World of blogs, podcasts, social networking which is enabling people to create, speak out, making their voices heard.  They can share experiences and find that they are not alone. Creation, using desktop software and distribution of video is also growing exponentially – eg. Star Wreck, Elephant’s Dream.  Public broadcasters are allowing their users (and funders) to do the same. (eg BBC)  Flickr with billions of photos now has over 100 million photos available under Creative Commons licences – enabling others to create with this content as well as millions of other online works.

Growth of the collaborative media – ie. Wikipedia – 2 million articles in english. Encyclopedia of Life aiming to catalogue all life on earth in 10 years – started last year.  OhMyNews – citizen journalism contributed by the person on the street, to a handful of editors.  Project Gutenberg, LibriVox (audio of it), MIT Open Courseware (7 years old) – online syllabi, course materials, powerpoint demos, podcasts and videocasts. Public Library of Science – open access peer reviewed scientific journal. Internet archive is good for more than the Way Back machine, it will host any content that the individual has the copyright to. Digitisation projects worldwide making previously unknown titles or those thought to be lost, now available to all.  Underlying a lot of this is open source software.

Internet 2018: Four pillars: connectivity, enhance participation,copyright, content
Price of admission for participation, lifelong learning, self expression is access. Connectivity – Broadband for all.
Muni wifi – market can’t do it all, there is a place for public utlities
net neutrality (not the Internet 2 model – pay for better service) – will help develop innovation – much would not be around today if it had not been in place ie. Google, eBay and Amazon.  Need legislation to ensure equity for all.

Enhance participation – intermediary liability issues – being blamed for the content of others and sometimes having legal action taken.
domain names
privacy – protections are often dictated by the policies of the sites they inhabit

Copyright – anti-circumvention – trying to keep it away, but if not, then retain fair dealing rights
fair use – ensure robust enough to deal with the shifting landscape
term extension –
orphan works

All communities need to speak out so that our governments are truly representing the view of the people in international negotiations.

Content: Open access, digitisation, crown copyright sometimes used as a legal form of censorship, public broadcasting.

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