8th International Conference on Human Choice and Computers
Social Dimensions of ICT Policy

University of Pretoria
25-26 September 2008

Thursday 25 September

9:00 – 9:30 Opening session
Welcome speeches by conference organizers at the University of Pretoria

9:30 – 10:30 Plenary session: keynote speech
Communication, Information and ICT Policy: Towards enabling research frameworks, Robin Mansell

10:30 – 11:00 coffee break

11:00 – 12:30 Plenary session: Issues of governance of the information society
• 15 Years of Ways of Internet Governance: towards a new agenda for action, Jacques Berleur
• Free and Open Source Software in low-income countries: emergent properties? (panel): Gianluca Miscione (chair), Dorothy K. Gordon, Kevin Johnston

12:30 – 14:00 lunch break

14:00 – 15:30 Track 1: Harnessing the empowering capacity of ICT
• Government policies for ICT diffusion and the governance of grassroots movements, Magda Hercheui
• Egyptian women artisans: ICTs are not the entry to modern markets, Leila Hassanin
• Digital divides and the role of policy and regulation: a qualitative study of Greece, Panayiota Tsatsou

Track 2: National information systems infrastructures
• Institutional strategies towards improving health information systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, Solomon B. Bishaw
• Technology, globalization and governance: research perspectives and prospects, Diego Navarra and Tony Cornford
• Globalization and national security issues for the state: implications for national ICT policies, Jackie Phahlamohlaka

15:30 – 16:00 coffee break

16:00 – 17:30 Track 1: ICT and development in Africa
• Examining trust in mobile banking transactions: the case of M-PESA in Kenya, Olga Morawczynski and Gianluca Miscione
• Next generation ICT policy in South Africa: towards a human development-based ICT policy, Walter Brown and Irwin Brown
• Challenges of ICT policy for rural communities: a case study from South Africa, Mpostol Jeremia Mashinini

Track 2: ICT in education
• A human environmentalist approach to diffusion in ICT policies, Elaine Byrne and Lizette Weilbach
• ICT and socio-economic development: a university’s engagement in a rural community in Yola, Nigeria, Jainaba M.L. Kah and Muhammadou M.O. Kah
• Lessons from a dropped ICT curriculum design project: a retrospective view, Roohollah Honarvar

Friday 26 September

9:00 – 10:00 Plenary session: keynote speech Dorothy Gordon

10:00 – 10:30 coffee break

10:30 – 11:30 Plenary session: panel on the policy implications of a UK mega-programme in the health sector
Evaluating ‘Connecting for Health’: policy implications of a UK mega-programme, Kathy McGrath (chair) Jane Hendy, Ela Klekun, Leslie Willcocks, Terry Young

11:30 – 12:30 Plenary session: panel on ICT and women’s empowerment
Gender research in Africa into ICTs for empowerment (GRACE), Ineke Buskens and Anne Webb (co-chairs), Gertrudes Macueve, Ibou Sane

12:30 – 14:00 lunch break

14:00 – 16:00 Track 1: European Union and national ICT policies
• Empowerment through ICT: a critical discourse analysis of the Egyptian ICT policy, Bernd Carsten Stahl
• American and African geospatial myths: the argumentative structure of spatial data infrastructure initiatives, Yola Georgiadou and Vincent Homburg
• ICT policy as a governable domain: the case of Greece and the European Commission, Ioanna Chini
• National variations of the information society: evidence from the Greek case, Dimitris Boucas

Track 2: Challenging two fundamental institutions of modernity: IPR and measurement
• Social networks within filtered ICT networks: internet usage within Iran, Farid Shirazi
• No-IPR model as solution to reuse and understanding of information systems, Kai K. Kimppa
• Measuring ICT for development, Anouk Mukherjee
• Open Access and Action Research, Mathias Klang

16:00 – 16:30 coffee break

16:30 – 17:30 Closing plenary session: Discussion of emerging issues on ICT policy research, Chrisanthi Avgerou (chair)

Online material and copyright

While commenting on the distinction between the professional and amateur Clair from Mummys Bracelet pointed to an interesting discussion (and here) in relation to this topic. The whole thing started when JonnyB was told be a neighbor that he was published in the newspaper The Mail on Sunday. This was news to JonnyB who found that The Mail had printed entire posts from his blog on their Blog of The Week section without permission.

OK – so it’s copyright violation. No biggie, nothing to blog about you might think. JonnyB sent an invoice and the Mail paid up. Problem solved? No, not really. The newspaper paid but it also wrote in response to JonnyB

We generally take the view that blogs published on the internet have already been placed in the public domain by their authors and, in case of amateur writers, most people are happy to have their work recognised and displayed to a wider audience.

The really strange thing that follows from this story is the misguided belief that what is online is somehow in the public domain and that these mistakes are being made not only by amateurs but also be the “professional” media. And this is despite the fact that the discussion on online copyright is almost as old as the internet.

When lecturing to my students I keep trying to push into their minds three steps:

1. Almost nothing online is outside copyright.

2. Assume everything is owned.

3. What risks will you be running by using other people material? (who do you represent)

Maybe I should start lecturing for the news media…

Boyle Book Cover Competition

Via an email list I found out that James Boyle, the new Chairman of the Board at Creative Commons and a founder of Science Commons, is holding a contest to design a cover for his new book, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. In the book, Boyle argues that more and more of material that used to be free to use without having to pay a fee or ask permission is becoming private property — at the expense of innovation, science, culture and politics.

Details, including specs and a link to some great source material for imagery, are available at the Worth1000 website. Both the book and the cover will be distributed under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Boyle is a great writer and enjoys exploring legal questions surrounding property in a way which makes it accessible and interesting to the reader. His book Shamans, Software and Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society was a real eye opener for me. I am definitely going to get his new book.

When my PhD was almost finished I announced a similar competition for the design of the book cover and was lucky to get it widely publicized. The whole idea of the competition was actually quite resented and discussed on my blog. Professional designers felt I was cutting them out of the market by asking for free work. Interesting discussions ensued. The results of the competition were posted on my blog and the winner was chosen by popular vote and used on the cover of my PhD.

What is the lecture?

No one can tell you what the lecture is… sorry for the silly Matrix reference. The question here is on the issue of property and the lecture. The questions I hope to address are Who owns the lecture? Who controls the lecture? Who owns the lecture notes? What can the audience do? Who owns the audiences’ notes?

Some early background: In November 2006 I wrote the post Do you hand out your handouts which was concerned with students demanding (not asking) to have handouts in advance. This is also part of a larger issue of the impact of becoming dependent on technology in teaching (see post Teaching with powerpoint).

What triggered these reflections was the news that University of Florida professor Michael Moulton was claiming the right to prevent his students from selling their lecture notes. His claim was based upon the concept that the students notes were actually derivative works from his own notes and therefore the lecturer could use copyright to prevent the students from selling their notes. This is the basic story read more details at Wired.

Standing and talking i.e. giving a lecture is not copyrightable per se, this is actually a good thing as most lectures tend to be the explanation of the works of many others (not all mentioned). A lecture on basic copyright law will include ideas and direct quotes from the law, courts and often other jurists. The nature of the lecture is to educate the audience on a certain issue and therefore cannot be only the ideas and opinions of the lecturer. This use of the ideas and texts of others is neither copyright infringement or plagiarism.

The lecture becomes copyrightable when it is a derivative work of the lecture notes. In other words a lecture given without notes is not copyrightable, nor is a lecture given from notes taken from the public domain. If the non-copyrightable lecture is filmed or recorded then the copyright goes to the person recording (the director).

The “right” of the lecturer to refuse the audience to record is actually not a question of copyright but more a question of labor law. For example, if I were to refuse to let my students record me the question would be one of my refusal to carry out my job as a lecturer. The ensuing discussion between my employer and me would be a re-negotiation of my contract to take into account the audiences’ desire to record my work. Many lecturers I have spoken to are not aware of this position and some react very strongly to being recorded while they work. The audience taking notes is a developed fair use but again the lecturer could theoretically refuse to talk if someone were holding a pen (as with a recording device) but it is doubtful that the academic employer would support this position.

What can the audience do with their notes or recordings? If we presume that the lecture is based upon the copyrightable notes of the lecturer (as opposed to an ad hoc talk or a folk dance following a traditional pattern i.e. uncopyrightable) then any kind of reproduction of the notes/recording would be a violation of the copyright of the lecturer. The audience can however sell their copies or make copies for their friends within the limits of fair use but this would not allow them to make several copies or post the notes/recording on the Internet.

Therefore the lecture is a collection of rights and it intersects with different legal areas. Beyond that it is also a specific situation based upon the traditions and expectations of the audience and lecturer. The lecturer seems to have more power since he/she has chosen the subject, scheduled the event and does all the talking  but this is not necessarily the case. The lecture is a socially constructed affair which requires audience participation in specific forms (coming on time, sitting properly, silence, attention etc)

On top of all this comes the control via labor law and contracts. Wow, who said that giving a lecture was easy?

Another idiotic regulatory attempt

The latest idiotic proposed legislation comes from Italy. The proposal is that all blogs and websites need to be registered (and taxed).

Beppe Grillo writes

Ricardo Franco Levi, Prodi’s right hand man , undersecretary to the President of the Council, has written the text to put a stopper in the mouth of the Internet. The draft law was approved by the Council of Ministers on 12 October. No Minister dissociated themselves from it. On gagging information, very quietly, these are all in agreement.
The Levi-Prodi law lays out that anyone with a blog or a website has to register it with the ROC, a register of the Communications Authority, produce certificates, pay a tax, even if they provide information without any intention to make money.

Oh my God, Lets start with the easy stuff.

First, How will they intend to police this law. The law can apply to all Italian sites. What is an Italian site? Is it:

  1. a site with an Italian domain
  2. a site on a server in Italy
  3. a site in Italian

Second, what happens when the site is based in several locations with data pulled from several sources? Do they get a tax reduction?

Third, what is a website? Can you define it legally? Is there a difference between the site, server and domain? What about:

  1. A facebook profile
  2. A blog on blogger
  3. An advert on ebay
  4. A wikipedia page
  5. A flickr profile

These may be unique individual websites – but they can also be seen as part of a larger domain.
Fourth, what about free speech rights? Basically an unregistered website would be in violation of the law but would/should the reaction be to close down the site? What happens if a newspaper does not register can they be closed down?

Fifth, administration. How much money and resource can be used to police a law such as this? Can the revenue it brings in even begin to cover the investigative resources required? No of course not. Imaging attempting to chase every Italian blog. How do you know when they are Italian?

Proposals to regulate the Internet come at regular intervals. Often they are barely thought through and will collapse before they even reach the enactment stage. Some laws on Internet regulation have been enacted but are then thankfully forgotten by those who should enforce them.

In the end proposals such as these show that regulators seem to lack even a basic understanding of the technology which most of us use. They also lack a fundamental modern historical approach to regulation. It is really a case of being condemned to repeat the past since we cannot remember it. All the earlier crappy failed attempts to regulate the Internet have failed but since the people proposing regulation have no memory of this we are doomed to see the same mistakes repeated again and again.

At best this provides a form of light relief and humor.

(via BoingBoing)

7 Ways To Ruin A Technological Revolution

Here is an online talk by one of the most interesting of tech-lawyers, the intellectual James Boyle talk is on YouTube and the subject is 7 Ways To Ruin A Technological Revolution. From the abstract:

If you wanted to undermine the technological revolution of the last 30 years, using the law, how would you do it? How would you undercut the virtuous cycle that results from access to an open network, force technological innovation into stagnation, diminish competition, create monopolies over the basic building blocks of knowledge? How many of those things are we doing now?

Boyle has been an impressive figure since his book Shamans, Software and Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society came out in 1997 since then his writings include Papers on the Public Domain (James Boyle ed. 2003) and Bound by Law – A ‘Graphic Novel’ (a.k.a. comic book) on Fair Use.

He has also been central in the launching of Creative Commons and Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

(via DigitalKoans)

Return of the lost blogger

For the first time in I don’t know how long I have been away. Not only have I been away from my office and telephone but I have also been offline and out of touch. In addition to this I have also been mentally off work – it has been a very relaxing experience. My only connection to work has been my seaside literature which has been (as always) work related, focusing mainly on copyright, open access and the public domain. It has all been very relaxing and I am now ready to come back with a better tan and full of energy.


I spent some of my downtime over here…

Millenium Mouse & Copyright

The attempts Disney goes to maintain copyright over their intellectual property are legendary. Copyright term extention acts have ensured that Mickey Mouse is saved from the public domain and continues to generate income for Disney.

But what would happen if Mickey was shown to be older than we thought? An artefact at Lund Historical Museum dated to 900 A.D. was excavated at a site called Uppåkra in southern Sweden.

Surprise, surprise its Mickey!! This means that Mickey is over 1000 years old – let Mickey enter the public domain – he deserves it…

Don’t be surprised if Disney uses this as an excuse to extend copyright terms to 1000 years!

Although made of bronze, the brooch ornament likely adorned the clothing of an Iron Age woman. Excavations at nearby sites, such as at Järrestad, have yielded other unusual pieces of jewelry, such as a necklace with a pail fob at the end and another necklace strung with 262 pieces of amber. (Discovery Channel)

(via Boing Boing)

Theories, Movement & Collected Stories

James Boyle has just given an excellent presentation on what the environmental movement did right. He points to the right mix of theory, movements and the collection of stories in the creation of the concept of the environment. The environment as a concept did not exist prior to its creation, establishment and acceptance in the wider public.

What he means is that the movement to protect public domain and develop creative commons requires more than the creation of licenses and preaching to the choir. The theory is required as a base but the broader public does not want to read theory. Therefore what is required is a movement of people to enable the transfer of dry theory in the communication to the public.

How should this be done? Well the environmental movement added a collection of stories. Individual examples of environmental damage. Burning streams, smog cities, nuclear waste and silent springs. The collection of stories have become established and iconic. They are established in the mental image of the public to such a degree that protection of the environment becomes an obvious step.

So, in order to establish the protection of the public domain, open access and creative commons the organisations working with these issues should look at the strategies of the environmental movement.

Britannia Rules / Britannia Sucks

Creative Commons’ UK film competition “Mix & Mash” in association with Google UK invites short video submissions mixing and mashing digital content under the theme: Britannia Rules / Britannia Sucks .

Remixing digital content is the basis for this competition. Digital pictures, sound or films licensed through Creative Commons and Public Domain material need to be used. Entrants can use their creativity to remix the work of others with their own. The result will be a collage of original and re-used material.

Films will be made available online under a Creative Commons Noncommercial license. For terms and conditions, and more details go to:www.MixandMash.cc