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Showing posts from September, 2005
Orphan works article in the San Francisco Bay Guardian News. I'll be speaking out more on copyright issues in the coming months. A recent article mentions why Benetech is concerned about orphan works: obscure works are hard to find the copyright owner, and it costs to much to hassle with.
Tim O'Reilly (who has been hugely helpful to us and especially Bookshare.org) published an op-ed in the New York Times about the Authors Guild suing Google's Library project. "AUTHORS struggle, mostly in vain, against their fated obscurity. According to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks sales from major booksellers, only 2 percent of the 1.2 million unique titles sold in 2004 had sales of more than 5,000 copies. Against this backdrop, the recent Authors Guild suit against the Google Library Project is poignantly wrongheaded."

Similar issue: our IP laws and attitudes are overly focused on the incorrect concept that intellectual property is the same as real property or other tangib…
Helping protect human rights information is one of our critical goals at Benetech. Information is the core of human rights work, and suppressing of such information is one of the ways perpetrators of abuses get away with their crimes.

We created our Martus software to help protect human rights information. However, the confidential nature of field human rights work often makes it difficult for us to share our successes, lest we add to the risks grassroots activists already take on as part of their daily tasks.

One of our biggest areas of work is in Colombia, a place where violence and human rights abuses are not a thing of the past. One of our strong partners in the country is a group named EQUITAS, the Colombian Interdisciplinary Team for Forensic Work and Psychosocial Services. They concentrate on recovering the remains of the many people disappeared during Colombia's complex and violent internal conflicts. EQUITAS is under particular pressure just now because of its invo…
Sometimes I like to update people on my travels. I've got a lot of trips planned for the next few months, and sometimes these blogs lead to people getting in touch with me about ideas for action!

Right now, I'm in Kyoto, Japan, to speak at the Science and Technology in Society forum (STS). It's an interesting and high powered group, and I'm looking forward to talking about Security and Privacy of Information.

I'll dash back to Palo Alto Tuesday night for our quarterly board meeting, and then leave Wednesday night for the NIMAS Technical Committee meeting in Dallas. This is the group charged with advising the Department of Education on the adoption of the new digital standard for electronic textbooks for students with disabilities. This will have a huge impact on students with disabilities around the U.S. and we're excited that Bookshare.org is part of this effort.

My next trip is to Kansas City for my nephew's wedding, and a chance to speak informally …
There are nice occasions where something humorous makes an important point. This presentation entitled Escape from CAPTCHA has a funny slide that captures the inaccessibility of many schemes used on web pages to keep out robot programs by requiring a human to enter obscured text. Thanks to Ivo Pletikosic for the link!
The MacArthur Foundation just published a nice article on Benetech's human rights program in their latest newsletter. The Foundation has been a steady supporter of our work in the human rights field, and recently renewed that commitment with a three year, $800,000 grant to Benetech.

Our human rights program is meeting its sustainability plan thanks to support from people like MacArthur. Our costs are covered by a combination of core support and project-specific funding that we raise in partnership with other human rights groups. Multiyear support for our human rights programs is especially helpful, as it provides us with continuity as well as the ability to invest in core capabilities such as our software for which no one customer can bear the cost. Our goals with core funding, such as the MacArthur support, is to expand our ability to strengthen the global human rights movement with science and technology to make the case for human rights as strong as possible.

I'm very e…