Tuesday 25 August 2009

Digital Britain - Implementation Plan

The UK government has released the details of how it will implement the recommendations in its Digital Britain report. The Digital Britain report was a government commissioned study published in June of this year that made recommendations for how the government could deal with online piracy, extend broadband internet access, and better regulate digital broadcasting.

Responsibility for putting the Digital Britain Report into action will be shared by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The implementation plan confirms that there will be a Digital Economy Bill, published in the autumn.

The plan is available here.

Some of the key paragraphs in the original report from my legal/digital curation perspective were:

Modernising Licensing
33. The UK copyright framework is 300 years old this year. But it has not stood
still. Copyright has had to evolve continually to meet the technological
challenges of photography, the gramophone, film, television, the video recorder,
the photocopier and latterly the Internet and the World Wide Web. And
copyright needs to evolve further in the digital age.

38. The Copyright Strategy’s focus is long term, and global. The Digital Britain
report focuses on what needs to be done in the UK. Much of copyright law is
an EU competence and the UK must work within that European framework.
Nonetheless, the Digital Britain work and the IPO’s copyright strategy work
have shown that, in addition to completing the work of Gowers in this area,
there are changes that could be made at national level which would aid the
process of implementing Digital Britain.

47. As part of the Government’s desire to encourage inexpensive but legal
consumer access to digital content, we will also make some changes to the
legislative framework around copyright licensing, to tackle problems such as
those surrounding the use of so-called orphan works and thus help digital
markets in those works to develop.

Data Security and Assurance
52.The issue of privacy and security of data online is a serious and growing one.
A small number of high-profile cases have demonstrated the strong feelings
that data privacy can provoke, and the complex relationship we have to the
handling of different types of personal data and different types of consent.

53. It is an issue that is likely to become more and more important over the coming
months. Research conducted by the Communications Consumer Panel earlier
this year confirmed that this is an area of particular concern for consumers and
new business models such as targeted advertising and new services such as
Google’s Streetview have taken this issue to front of the public’s mind.

54. If handled properly, new business models such as targeted advertising could be
important revenue earners because, as Meglena Kuneva, EU Consumer Affairs
Commissioner said in March this year: “Personal data is the new oil of the
Internet and the new currency of the digital world.”

55. The ICO and the Information Commissioner have taken the initiative in
addressing the principles which should apply to the use of personal data,
building on the bare legal requirements of the Data Protection Act and focusing
on ways in which businesses and individuals can mitigate risks from the
provision and use of online data. Businesses that collect and use personal data
for commercial purposes are required to respect user rights including access to
personal data. Businesses are legally responsible to the ICO. We support the
ICO’s plans to develop a new code of practice “Personal Information
Online” for consultation later this year.

79. Public Service data and content play an increasingly important role in the
digital economy. The Government has embraced the vision of the Power of
Information Task Force and, in respect of important data sources for innovation,
such as geospatial data, agencies are significantly improving access to data and
clearer licensing pathways from innovation to large scale commercial use.

80 Government commissioning represents a third of the total investment in
professional UK online content. Despite existing guidance many public online
commissions still prohibit the re-use of IP. This leads to wasteful warehousing
of rights. NESTA will pilot a simplified IP framework for digital media bringing
together PACT, the Cabinet Office, Kew Gardens and Arts Council England.

Monday 24 August 2009

Safe Storage and Transfer of Research Data - Free Seminar

For those of you in, or near Edinburgh, the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (WTCRF) is running a free lunchtime seminar on Wednesday 23rd September on the topic of ‘Safe Storage and Transfer of Research Data’.

The seminar will provide an update on the current policies for storing and transferring data (which have been recently revised) and will also provide an opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions. It is particularly relevant to both NHS Lothian and University of Edinburgh staff, and especially those who work across both institutions.

For more details please see the WTCRF site

Tuesday 11 August 2009

IPR and Licensing Workshops - London

The Strategic Content Alliance is running a series of free IPR and Licensing workshops over the Autumn in London. These are aimed at policy makers and practitioners involved in the delivery of online content and services over the internet.

The practical workshops are designed to appeal anyone involved in the digital content lifecycle from creation to curation. They will provide an update about the IPR and licensing issues associated with the use and generation of digital content, recent case law, the types of tools which can be used to manage the issues provided through the toolkit, as well as an opportunity to test the tools against specific scenarios. The events will provide an opportunity to evaluate and critique the SCA IPR and Licensing Toolkit, recently created by Naomi Korn and Professor Charles Oppenheim.

There are three dates to choose from:
Thursday 8th October 2009,
Monday 26th October 2009, or
Thursday 12th November 2009.

The workshops will take place at MLA London, Fourth Floor, 53-56 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DG from 11:00 – 15:30 (including a free lunch).

Wednesday 5 August 2009

New journal on the topic of open source software law

A short post to alert you to a new journal on the topic on open source software law.

The International Free and Open Source Software Law Review (IFOSS L. Rev.) is a collaborative legal publication aiming to increase knowledge and understanding among lawyers about Free and Open Source Software issues. Topics covered include copyright, licence implementation, licence interpretation, software patents, open standards, case law and
statutory changes.

I found the Foreword by Iain G Mitchell QC a rewarding read.

I particularly enjoyed his use of this excellent quote from Stewart Brand:

"Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine - too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, 'intellectual property', the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better."
The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT

Monday 3 August 2009

Implementing open data....and fruit skewers

Had an enjoyable day at the Beyond the Repository Fringe on Friday. Thanks a lot to the organisers.

The highlight for me was the tutorial from Jordan Hatcher & Jo Walsh on Implementing Open Data.

Jordan’s run down of the legal tools offered by Open Data Commons was useful. I was previously aware of these but thought it might be helpful to give a quick summary for those of you who are interested but couldn’t make it. For more details see www.opendatacommons.org

  • Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL) This is a tool for putting your data and databases into the public domain. It demonstrates your desire to relinquish or waive your rights, effectively dedicating the data and database to the public domain. Because there can be some difficulty with waiving rights in certain jurisdictions it also licenses those same rights.
  • Community Norms Statement (CNS) Open Data Commons encourages the creation and use of a CNS as a complementary tool to the PDDL. A CNS sets out the general principles that those who use the data should adhere to. There is no set text for the CNSs as each community creates their own. However, you can see an example here. These are not legal documents so are not binding.
  • Open Database Licence (ODbL) This is a tool to allow users to freely share, modify, and use a database, while maintaining the same freedom for others. The licensor allows others to use the database freely while retaining rights them self rather than giving all rights up to the public domain. The ODbL includes a share-alike condition but imposes no constraint on field of endeavour so does not have a non-commercial element. The final version of this was launched just a month ago on 29th June.
  • Database Contents Licence (DbCL) This works alongside the ODbL. It waives all the rights in the individual contents of the database which is licensed under the ODbL. It does not cover database rights or database copyright.

P.S. loving the fruit skewers! Well done whoever thought of them.