“On Greater Greater Washington, Tom MacWright recently wrote a blog entry highlighting the problems of access to the Washington, D.C. Code. There is, first, a legal obstacle: Washington D.C. claims copyright over their laws, which is to say that it is illegal to reproduce them without permission of the city. Then, second, what is perhaps a more significant obstacle: They outsource the maintenance of their legal code. The city of Washington, D.C. long ago started paying WestLaw — and now LexisNexis — to turn the D.C. Council’s bills into laws. As a result, they now have neither the knowledge nor the infrastructure to maintain their own laws. The only way that D.C. can find out what their laws say is to pay LexisNexis to tell them. This is consequently true for the public, as well. If a resident of D.C. — like MacWright — wants to know what the law says, there’s no sense in asking (or FOIA-ing) the city, because the city has outsourced the process so completely that they know nothing.” (via PBS)
“A bill advancing in the Arizona Legislature would add protections for ebook readers under the state’s existing library privacy law.A Senate panel is expected to move the bill forward Monday. The House passed the measure in a 57-1 vote in early March.The measure seeks to include digital books under material protected by the state law that prohibits the disclosure of public library records.” (via AP)
“The GPO’s recent electronic publication of all legislation enacted by Congress from 1951-2009 is noteworthy for several reasons. It makes available nearly 40 years of lawmaking that wasn’t previously available online from any official source, narrowing part of a much larger information gap. It meets one of three long-standing directives from Congress’s Joint Committee on Printing regarding public access to important legislative information. And it has published the information in a way that provides a platform for third-party providers to cleverly make use of the information. While more work is still needed to make important legislative information available to the public, this online release is a useful step in the right direction.”
“Unless you’re reppin’ the MPAA, you probably know that the modern copyright regime doesn’t work. You don’t have to believe in radical copyleftism — or even progressivism — to understand this. But it’s hard to know how the current body of law governing copyright and intellectual property affects individual works, simply because of the way communication, and ideas in general, work. One thing connects to another, and pulling apart the causes from the effects requires an Aristotle-like familiarity with contemporary culture.
But one MIT economist, who recently presented his work recently at Wikimania, has found a way to test how the copyright law affects one online community — Wikipedia — and how digitized, public domain works dramatically affect the quality of knowledge”
via The Atlantic
“…[A]s little libraries have grown in popularity, they’ve come to the attention of city bureaucrats. And as “Metamorphosis” author Franz Kafka might suggest, bureaucracy can suffocate just the kind of human inspiration that results in little libraries. The problem is that most of Madison’s LLs are technically illegal. With dozens already installed and serving readers, the city has only recently realized that they don’t really fit under any of its existing codes.”
BBC – “The cultural life of Europe will suffer unless more effort is made to clarify what libraries can do with so-called orphan works, says a study”
SF Chronicle – “A spat over outdoor literature tables during Constitution Week led city officials in Redding to restrict leafleting outside the public library, an action that united a diverse set of opponents – local Tea Party groups and the American Civil Liberties Union. Now a judge has issued a ruling that could break new ground on free speech in civic plazas. “The library is an area dedicated to the free exchange of ideas,” Judge Monica Marlow of Shasta County Superior Court said Wednesday in an injunction halting enforcement of the restrictions that took effect in April.”
Business Insider – “Yesterday a French parliamentary committee voted unanimously (!) to impose a unique price on eBooks sold in France, even if they’re sold from outside France. (Via Les Echos in French)
This is consistent with earlier regulation, which mandates a single price for dead tree books.
France’s government believes that culture is precious, and therefore should only be available to the rich. In France, the poor don’t deserve access to books. That’s probably not how the French government would describe this policy, but it’s certainly what it works out to.”
BBC – “Google’s Street View technology carries a small risk of privacy invasion but should not be stopped, the UK’s Information Commissioner has ruled. The technology, which adds photos of locations to maps, sparked complaints it breaches the Data Protection Act. A spokesman for the privacy watchdog said removing the entire service would be “disproportionate to the relatively small risk of privacy detriment”.
Popgadget – “With complicated matters, you may still find that you need to hire a lawyer, but you’ll be better informed about what the lawyer has to do if you do your own research first.”