The Sunlight Foundation has just released Open States for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The site helps the public find their state legislators, review their votes, search upcoming legislation, and track bill progress. Open States gets their Bill, legislator, committee and event data from official sources, linked at the bottom of each legislator, bill, vote, committee or event page. Check out their methodology for more. They rely primarily on scraping data from sites. Wouldn't it be awesome of all state legislatures had bulk data feeds so that 1000 sites like Open States could bloom? Join the Webinar on February 22nd to learn more about Open States.
After more than four years of work from volunteers and a full-time team here at Sunlight we're immensely proud to launch the full Open States site with searchable legislative data for all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Open States is the only comprehensive database of activities from all state capitols that makes it easy to find your state lawmaker, review their votes, search for legislation, track bills and much more.
If you're interested in your state lawmaker, you'll be able to get notifications for their actions, a map of their district, voting records, committee assignments, campaign finance records from Influence Explorer, local news articles and contact information. If you're curious about a particular piece of legislation, Open States allows you to check on its status, find the sponsors, break down votes, view bill text and all supporting documents. Our powerful search capabilities allow you to find similar topics across states and view overview pages for each state, chamber and committee.
This announcement was just posted to the Global Open Access List (GOAL). We think it's a great move forward in offering free access to federally funded research. Infodocket has several other links of interest, including analysis by Peter Suber. If you support FASTR, please tell Congress.
U.S. Representatives Introduce Bill Expanding Access to Federally Funded Research
Washington, DC, February 14, 2013
U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Kevin Yoder (R-KS), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) today introduced legislation to increase the openness, transparency, and accessibility of publicly funded research results.
The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) would require federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
"This bill will give the American people greater access to the important scientific research results they've paid for," Congressman Doyle said today. Supporting greater collaboration among researchers in the sciences will accelerate scientific innovation and discovery, while giving the public a greater return on their scientific investment.
"The scientific research community benefits when they are able to share important research and cooperate across scientific fields. Likewise, taxpayers should not be required to pay twice for federally-funded research," said Congressman Yoder. "This legislation is common sense,
and promotes more transparency, accountability, and cooperation within the scientific research community."
"Everyday American taxpayer dollars are supporting researchers and scientists hard at work, when this information is shared, it can be used as a building block for future discoveries," said Representative Lofgren. "Greater public access can accelerate breakthroughs, where robust collaborative research can lead to faster commercialization and immense benefits for the public and our economy."
Specifically, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act would:
- Require federal departments and agencies with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more, whether funded totally or partially by a government department or agency, to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscript that has been accepted for publication in a
- Ensure that the manuscript is preserved in a stable digital repository maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation.
- Require that each taxpayer-funded manuscript be made available to the public online and without cost, no later than six months after the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
- Require agencies to examine whether introducing open licensing options for research papers they make publicly available as a result of the public access policy would promote productive reuse and computational analysis of those research papers.
An identical Senate counterpart of this legislation is also being introduced today by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
"FASTR represents a giant step forward in making sure that the crucial information contained in these articles can be freely accessed and fully
used by all members of the public," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing Academic Research Coalition (SPARC). "It has the potential to truly revolutionize the scientific research process."
This legislation would unlock unclassified research funded by agencies like the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation.
The bill builds on the success of the first U.S. mandate for public access to the published results of publicly funded research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2008, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) implemented their public access policy. It is estimated that approximately 80,000 papers are published each year from NIH funds.
The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act echoes the interest in public access policies expressed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which has examined the mechanisms that would leverage federal investments in scientific research and increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness.
Click here to read the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act.
Carl Malamud posted the following to BoingBoing today:
"This bill would provide that the full text of the California Code of Regulations shall bear an open access creative commons attribution license, allowing any individual, at no cost, to use, distribute, and create derivative works based on the material for either commercial or noncommercial purposes."
Public.Resource.Org has bulk data for the CCR and the public safety codes (known as Title 24) online, but this would all be way easier if we didn't have to double-key the building codes every 3 years and jump on the West CD-ROM every 2 months to extract the data. This move would lead to tremendous innovation, just like we've seen when the Federal Register went open source in bulk.
The bill sponsor, Assemblyman Nestande, has a long background in public policy and IP. He was campaign manager for Sonny Bono's successful 1994 congressional campaign.
Some of you may remember Dr. Joel Weintraub's census talk at the 2012 ALA Annual conference in Anaheim, CA -- complete w a fire alarm and sobbing librarians. Because of that immensely interesting talk, My colleague Kris Kasianovitz and I decided to invite Dr Weintraub to speak about the history of the US census at Stanford University. He came last week (Monday 2/4/13) and gave an amazingly informative talk on the United States Decennial Census Manuscripts aka Enumerators' Notebooks, the history of the Census Questions, including controversial questions, undercounts, and truthfulness. For more on Dr Weintraub's census work see his 1940 census site and his collaborative work with Steve Morse.
The talk was co-sponsored by Stanford University Library, SUL Government Information Librarians and the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS).
Some of you may remember that we nominated Aaron Swartz for the ALA Madison award a few weeks ago and asked folks to write in letters of support to the Washington Office. Last week, there was a memorial for Aaron in Washington DC -- Rick Perlstein covered it well for The Nation, "Aaron Swartz's DC Memorial: Radical Brings Bipartisanship to Washington". Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, the 2012 Madison award honoree(!) and one of a number of Congressional members who attended Aaron's memorial, caught wind of the campaign to nominate Aaron for the Madison Award and sent in her own letter in support. She kindly allowed us to post the letter here.
I just noticed this post over at Wired Magazine's Threat Level blog, Activists Flood Government Agencies With FOIA Requests in Tribute to Aaron Swartz. Last week, Muckrock, the site that helps journalists, lawyers, and the public submit FOIA requests for a small fee ($20 for 5 requests), waived their fees in tribute to the transparency fights of computer programmer and internet activist Aaron Swartz who committed suicide a few weeks ago. I hope Muckrock will post all of the documents received via these requests. According to Muckrock:
MuckRock has begun processing 153 free FOIA requests submitted in honor of Internet pioneer and transparency activist Aaron Swartz, who died earlier this month at age 26.
Swartz, among MuckRock's first users and supporters, used public records laws to attempt to find out more about why the federal government was pursuing Internet piracy charges against him. He also filed requests related to alleged WikiLeaks collaborator Bradley Manning and the U.S. Mint, among many other topics.
In a Jan. 18 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking about Swartz’s prosecution, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) asked, “was the prosecution of Mr. Swartz in any way retaliation for his exercise of his rights as a citizen under the Freedom of Information Act?”
As a way to honor Swartz’s legacy and to further his transparency work, MuckRock encouraged users to file requests in his honor free of charge. The requests cover all corners of government, ranging from the Department of Homeland Security’s documents relating to the high profile Tar Sands Blockade to the city payroll for Everett, Mass.
I had the distinct honor to be invited to speak at the University of Washington Libraries on thursday, January 24, 2013. I want to thank Cass Hartnett, the Northwest Government Information Network, the UW Information School, the UW Association of Library and Information Science Students (ALISS), and the University of Washington Libraries for allowing me the opportunity to talk publicly about the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). the audio for my talk can be downloaded from the UW Library digital archive or streamed below from the Internet Archive.
that is all.
We’re at the very beginning of the digital era where tools, policies, best practices, etc are all in flux. In many ways, we’re at the age of new metaphors needed to describe what it is that we as librarians do on a daily basis.
I'd like to talk about the underlying historical ideals of the FDLP, discuss how those ideals have been under fire from both within and without the library community and argue that those ideals applied to today's new information metaphors give us the best chance at access to and long-term preservation and assurance of govt information.
Then I’ll talk about some of the digital collection strategies that I’ve found to be successful and then conclude with a bit about collaboration and to-dos.
Even before we learned of Aaron Swartz's passing last friday, several colleagues and I were in the midst of writing letters nominating Aaron for the ALA James Madison Award which was established by the ALA in 1986 to "honor individuals or groups who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s “right to know” on the national level."
We write now to ask all of our readers to also submit letters in support. The deadline for letter submission is January 16, 2013, so get a move on!
Send e-mail nominations to Jessica McGilvray, Assistant Director for the ALA Office of Government Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions can also be mailed to:
James Madison Award / Eileen Cooke Award
American Library Association
1615 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009-2520
To help you in your letter writing, below are the nominating and seconding letters we submitted. Feel free to copy/paste for your own letter of support.
Many thanks go to Bruce Sanders, librarian at DePauw University, and Kelsey Kauffman, the mother of Aaron's partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, for putting the idea of nominating Aaron for the Madison Award out in the universe and doing much of the work that went into the nomination.
To: Jessica McGilvray
Re: Nomination of Aaron Swartz for ALA James Madison Award
Dear Ms. McGilvray:
I am writing to nominate Aaron Swartz for the 2013 American Library Association James Madison Award. Aaron was the computer programmer who in 2008 downloaded nearly 20 million pages of text from the Public Access to Court Electronic Records System (PACER), and then donated the pages of public domain US Court documents to public.resource.org in order to make those documents truly open access. This act was the epitome of promoting open access of government documents.
Like many earlier Madison honorees, Aaron has been an outspoken advocate and practitioner of open access. In fact, it is fair to say that much of his life was devoted to open access. Through his online organization DemandProgress.org, now a million members strong, Aaron educated a large segment of the population about the dangers of PIPA and SOPA and led highly effective campaigns in opposition. As a result, he engaged millions of ordinary citizens in the political process and put Congress on notice that Internet censorship will be vigorously opposed by large swaths of the voting (and soon-to-be-voting) public. In 2007, at the age of 20, he founded Open Library, an ongoing project to provide information free-of-charge on every book ever published. In 2008 he penned “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto.”
Aaron also conducted a study on “Who Writes Wikipedia” that exploded the myth that a small core of Wikipedians is responsible for most of the content (though they are responsible for most of the edits). The reality --- that Wikipedia is, in fact, the creation of millions of mostly one-time contributors --- has provided us with one of the best examples of the power and quality of open source collaboration.
Past recipients of the Madison Award, such as Senator Patrick Leahy, Steven Garfinkel, Thomas Susman and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, have usually been established and highly effective advocates either within government or organizations close to seats of power. But in many ways the driving force today behind the open access movement is a younger generation raised with the understanding that knowledge can and should be shared not just nationally, but also globally, and without paywalls.
Aaron Swartz embodied this younger generation’s passionate commitment to open government, free and universal access to knowledge, and an informed civil society. He is truly deserving of receiving this award posthumously.
Head of Cataloging and Processing
Roy O. West Library
To: Jessica McGilvray
Re: Nomination of Aaron Swartz for ALA James Madison Award
Dear Ms McGilvray,
The nominating letter by our colleague Bruce Sanders discusses reasons why Aaron Swartz should be nominated for the 2013 James Madison Award for his articulate and passionate leadership against SOPA and for devoting his life to promoting open access to scholarly and government information. As the New York Times described him in a 2011 front-page article, Aaron was “an Internet folk hero … a civil liberties activist who crusades for open access to data.” Aaron, in the spirit of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, believed that academic work and government information should not be commodified but instead distributed freely. He devoted his short but unimaginably prodigious life to his ideals. We wholeheartedly second Aaron’s posthumous nomination.
As noted in the nominating letter, Aaron was a pioneer in the new academic research methods of large-scale data collection and analysis. Aaron had extensive experience downloading and analyzing massive data sets, and in the process greatly enhanced our understanding of who controls access to knowledge—from correcting erroneous assumptions about who in fact authors most material on Wikipedia to raising alarms about undue corporate influence over legal scholarship. Aaron was studying the corrupting influence of money on a wide range of institutions including academia and government when his JSTOR troubles began.
His act of downloading articles from JSTOR for intellectual pursuit should have been encouraged and supported. Instead, it led the US government to indict and threaten him with 35 years in prison and a million dollar fine for wire- and computer fraud even after JSTOR refused to pursue criminal charges. Yet, until the end, Aaron never wavered from his ideals nor gave up his integrity.
The world and Libraries need more Aaron Swartz’s. We hope that the ALA will join us in honoring Aaron’s leadership in protecting the Internet from censorship and corporate interests and his life-long commitment to open access to scholarship and government information for every person on the planet. Aaron’s passing this week has motivated many people around the world to carry on his torch by uploading and freely sharing their writings on the Internet in his memory. We hope that ALA will honor Aaron by not only giving him the 2013 Madison Award, but also fostering his ideals and forwarding his work.
PhD candidate and co-founder of Radical Reference and Free government Information
Government Information Librarian and co-founder of Radical Reference and Free government Information
Brief Biography of Aaron Swartz:
Aaron Swartz’s, brief biography:
• Born 1986, Chicago, Illinois
• 1999 at the age of 13 creates a program for an open source encyclopedia, theinfo.org
• 2000 co-authored the RSS 1.0 standard for news aggregation
o joined the founding team of Creative Commons and developed their metadata system
o joined the RDF Core Working Group, the standards body for the Web
o worked on the semantic web writing popular guides as well as specifications and co-wrote the article, “The Semantic Web: a Network of Content for the Digital City,” Proceedings Second Annual Digital Cities Workshop, Kyoto, Japan, October, 2001.
• 2002 wrote, “MusicBrainz: a Semantic Web Service,” IEEE Intelligent Systems, Jan./Feb., 2002 pp. 76-77.
• 2004 attended Stanford University for one year.
• 2005-2006 works for Reddit and develops the Python web framework, web.py, and releases it as an open-source project and also conducts study “Who Writes Wikipedia”
• 2007 developed Open Library, an open access project to collect metadata about every book ever published
• 2008 downloaded 20 million pages from PACER and made them truly public access
o founds Demand Progress and begins activism that eventually defeats COICA, SOPA and PIPA bills
o fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
o charged for crimes in relation to downloading 4 million JSTOR articles
• Dies January 2013
Shinjoung and I were stunned when we heard the news early yesterday morning that our friend -- and supreme friend of libraries and the Internet! -- Aaron Swartz left this world late friday evening. Aaron was deeply committed to and passionate about internet freedom and making information and knowledge as available as possible. To those ends, he worked on many projects large and small in his short but influential life. He was 26.
The *many* heartfelt remembrances from communities as diverse as journalism, law and open source tech -- witness Rick Perlstein, Lawrence Lessig, Glenn Greenwald, Karl Fogel -- attest to Aaron's supreme impact on the world at large (and that's no hyperbole!).
Before I had even heard of his tragic demise, a few colleagues and I were in the midst of writing letters of support for Aaron's nomination for this year's James Madison award from the American Library Association (ALA). This award, named in honor of President James Madison, was established by the ALA in 1986 to honor individuals or groups who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s “right to know” on the national level. I hope now that ALA will award Aaron posthumously!
We're helping Archive-it staff harvest a Web archive of Aaron's work, writings, images, videos, and remembrances. If you've got a URI that you'd like to be included in the archive, please paste it to this Google Doc.
Remembrances of Aaron, as well as donations in his memory, can be submitted at http://rememberaaronsw.com
The world will miss you Aaron. Be at peace my friend!
Happy 2013 FGI readers! As we begin the new year, it's always good to be reminded every year by Jennifer Jenkins and James Boyle and rest of the fine folks at the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain about the number of books, film and music that could have entered the public domain this year were it not for the 1976 Copyright Act. It's a fascinating and depressing read, especially the scientific material that may never become truly free and open knowledge -- not to mention the Scifi ("Minority Report" and Around The World in 80 Days -- the movie -- should have been "Around The World in 34,699 Days"), music, films, and literature.
Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years – an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1956 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2013, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2052. And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019.
What books would be entering the public domain if we had the pre-1978 copyright laws? You might recognize some of the titles below.
* Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume I and Volume II
* Philip K. Dick, Minority Report
* Ian Fleming, Diamonds are Forever
* Fred Gibson, Old Yeller
* Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues
* Alan Lerner, My Fair Lady
* Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey into Night
* John Osborne, Look Back in Anger
* Dodie Smith, 101 Dalmatians
Here are a few of the movies that we won’t see in the public domain for another 39 years.
* Around the World in 80 Days
* The Best Things in Life are Free
* Forbidden Planet
* Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
* It Conquered the World
* The King and I
* The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 remake by Alfred Hitchcock of his 1934 British film)
* Moby Dick
* The Searchers (1956 film version with John Wayne from Alan Le May’s 1954 novel)
* The Ten Commandments (1956 version by Cecil B. DeMille, who also directed a similar film in 1923)