The most recent legal challenge to the current state of the information commons is that of Brewster Kahle of Archive.org and Rick Prelinger of Prelinger Film Archives. They, with the help of the Stanford Law Center for Internet and Society, contend that the copyright law as it now exists locks up works that have been abandoned or otherwise should have and could have been returned to the public domain. This locking up of such works is, they allege, unconstitutional. They point out that they are not up for taking works that the authors actually want and that are in publication, but rather works that are now out of print and whose authors (or owners) are impossible to find.
They lost in District Court without a hearing, but have appealed to the 9th Circuit.
Wired News has a good brief article. Stanford Law refers to the decision as a setback [longer paper in pdf available there]. Lessig was somewhat involved and his commenters have more to say on his blog. Slashdot covered the story earlier and of course the chorus of commenters was loud there ;->
Today’s New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Hidden (in Plain Sight) Persuaders,” by Rob Walker is mostly about the Boston-based BzzAgent, a company that organizes the word-of-mouth marketing equal to astroturf. Although Everett Rogers’ diffusion of innovation is mentioned and described, this article and the company seem to owe more to Douglass Ruskoff’s “Media Virus: Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture” and the concept of meme than to Rogers. If nothing else, the success of BzzAgent, if this article is more than just bzz itself, is to show that early adaptors need not be ‘cool people’ or ‘trend setters’ or even successful models. They just need to get the bzz or, as Doug would say, meme out and get it out to a lot of people. This is more Mark Granovetter than Rogers, if you asked me (and since I’m writing this I asked myself).
Both Rushkoff’s media virus/meme and Granovetter’s strength of weak ties [Granovetter, M. (1973), “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology, 78 (6): 1360-1380.] speak more directly to the way memes make their way through a culture or, dare I say it, a market.
I am also trying to see how the various parts of Ronald Burt‘s work on Structural Holes and creativity and information dissimination fit in here. It looks like Burt’s new book [downloadable at least in part in pdf] “Brokerage and Closure: An Introduction of Social Capital” might contain the answer and/or his paper, “Bandwidth and Echo: Trust, Information, and Gossip in Social Networks [pdf],” [Pre-print of a chapter in Networks and Markets, edited by Alessandra Casella and James E. Rauch. Russell Sage Foundation, 2001].
Christian Stalberg, who founded the local Computer Professional for Social Responsibility chapter, sends this announcement:
Is Your Vote Counted?
Panel Presentation and Community Speak-Out on the Question of Voter
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 7-9pm
Chapel Hill Town Hall, 306 North Columbia St.
Introduction by Joyce McCloy, Founder, NC Coalition for Verified Voting
David Price, US Congressman: 4th District
David Allen, Systems Engineer, publisher and tech consultant “Black Box Voting:
Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century”
Justin Moore, Computer Scientist, member National Committee for Voting Integrity
Lewis Pitts, Legal Aid Attorney, Advocates for Children’s Services
Moderator, Christian Stalberg, founder, RTP Chapter of Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility
(downloadable flier for printing available at