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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.

The divide between new technology and what the government understands about it

As a complement to Cory Doctorow’s excellent talk about “The Coming War on General Purpose Computation” (see http://freegovinfo.info/node/3594), an article in Miller-McCune says we need a better understanding of technology before trying to regulate it.

  • SOPA Debate Highlights Congress’s Ignorance, By Emily Badger, Miller-McCune (December 29, 2011).

    When members of Congress earlier this month considered the Stop Online Piracy Act — better known to anyone who actually hangs out on the Internet as #SOPA — the most notable feature of the debate turned out to be the sheer ignorance of the elected officials discussing it. One after the other, members of the U.S. House of Representatives professed — nay, bragged about — approaching this weighty legislation from the vantage point of someone who is not “a nerd” or a “tech expert.”

The article highlights the book, The Information Diet by Clay Johnson, which discusses the relationship between power, authority, and information.

Lunchtime Listen: The Coming War on General Computation by Cory Doctorow

You have probably seen references to this presentation by Cory Doctorow, but if you have not taken the time to watch it (or read the transcript), I urge you to do so. He not only explains the issues and their importance, but why laws and regulations that sound reasonable to many people manage to fail in accomplishing their stated goals while simultaneously having disastrous unintended consequences.

Incompatible DRM for ebooks

Digital Rights Management (DRM) techniques are bad enough when applied to digital content, but this article notes that when there is not even a standard for DRM, the difficulties and problems that DRM creates are multiplied:

  • E-books need a common language, By Troy Wolverton, San Jose Mercury News, (02/14/2010)

    I never need to worry about whether I can read a book. As long as a book’s a book, that is — printed on paper, in English. I know I can pick it up and read it no matter how long it sits on my shelf after I bought it. But as we move into the era of e-books, that assumption no longer holds.

There is more on Apple’s decision to impose DRM on ebooks, after dropping DRM from music, here:

  • Digital handcuffs for Apple ebooks?, by Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times “Jacket Copy” blog. (February 16, 2010)

    Apple’s old digital rights management software (DRM), FairPlay, is slated to make a comeback with the e-books it will be selling on its iBook Store. While music users have been free of these “digital handcuffs” for the last year, Alex Pham reports that readers will not be.

Obama’s Gift To British Prime Minister Rendered Useless By DRM

Obama’s Gift To British Prime Minister Rendered Useless By DRM, by Carlo Longino, techdirt, Mar 19th 2009.

The danger of Kindle

Emily Walshe, a librarian and professor at Long Island University in New York, writes about the Kindle e-book reader.

In our rush to adopt new technologies, we have too readily surrendered ownership in favor of its twisted sister, access….

You’re not buying a book; you’re buying access to a book. No, it’s not like borrowing a book from a library, because there is no public investment. It’s like taking an interest-only mortgage out on intellectual property.