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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Lunchtime listen: Truth about ACTA

The [w:Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement] (ACTA) is a proposed international trade agreement for establishing international standards on intellectual-property-rights enforcement throughout the participating countries. Many copyright activists are extremely worried about ACTA because it will have wide ranging impact on digital rights, is being negotiated in secret meetings with no transparency and will most likely include substantive provisions such as three strikes, anti-circumvention rules, and statutory damages.

Dr. Michael Geist, law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, has been a leading voice on education about and advocacy vs ACTA. Geist gave a very interesting talk on ACTA entitled “The Truth About ACTA” at the PublicACTA conference in Wellington, New Zealand (the Wellington Declaration is a must-read and a must-sign!!). You can also follow his ongoing advocacy on his twitter account (@MichaelGeist).

NASA Video Mashups

Thanks to BoingBoing.net for posting about NASA’s “remixable videos“, audio clips, and images, as well as a DIY Podcasts page.

You can mix and mash these video clips with NASA images and your own narration, original video, special effects and transitions. Preview the video and download the clips you want to use in your creative masterpiece.

I hope the collection grows. It looks like the only remixable videos so far are about spacesuits.

Anyway, I thought this would be fun for those of you who love mashups! I become more and more impressed with the NASA website and all the cool stuff it has to offer. I hope they continue to post more remixable videos and audio files for us to download and manipulate.

Carl Malamud: government information copyfighter

[Update: HA! StanfordLawLibrarians cross-posted a similar story almost at the same exact moment on FGI and over at LegalResearchPlus. So I deleted their post and include this link to their story as well!]

Carl Malamud is itching for a copyfight, and when he wins(!), the American public will be better informed due to better access to state, county and federal regulations, building codes, plumbing standards, criminal laws etc.

Code city is now open and the readme file is a graphic novel (view it as a Flickr slideshow here!) explaining the travesty of state and local codes being copyrighted rather than in the public domain and freely available online. Code city included full-text scans of 43 state codes — including the entire California Title 24 Safety Codes! — and several city codes (Little Rock, Denver, Phoenix, Wilmington, Honolulu, St Louis, Las Vegas).

The goal of the project is to get as many city, county and state safety and building codes and regulations out on the open Web in a standardized digital format (YAY open standards!!) so that others can use the documents to design Web sites with more modern search and presentation features, “social Web sites where, for instance, plumbers could provide useful annotations to building codes — perhaps blending Wikipedia with Facebook for a more useful law site.” If/when he’s successful, citizens (not to mention libraries!) will no longer be forced to shell out hundreds of dollars (CA code is $1,556 for a digital copy, or $2,315 for a printed version!). And that’s a very good thing!!

California’s building codes, plumbing standards and criminal laws can be found online.

But if you want to download and save those laws to your computer, forget it.

The state claims copyright to those laws. It dictates how you can access and distribute them — and therefore how much you’ll have to pay for print or digital copies.

It forbids people from storing or distributing its laws without consent.

That doesn’t sit well with Carl Malamud, a Sebastopol resident with an impressive track record of pushing for digital access to public information. He wants California — and every other federal, state and local agency — to drop their copyright claims on law, contending it will pave the way for innovators to create new ways of searching and presenting laws.

“When it comes to the law, the courts have always said there can be no copyright because people are obligated to know what it says,” Malamud said. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse in court.”

Malamud is spoiling for a major legal fight.

He has begun publishing copies of federal, state and county codes online — in direct violation of claimed copyright.

Nathan Halverson, Press Democrat, Wednesday, September 3, 2008