Archive:National Summit 2006 Notes

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Speakers' Notes from the National Summit

Here is the schedule. Please do not hold the speakers liable for the information presented here, as there's a chance it could be inaccurate or misrepresentative.

Nelson Pavlosky, co-founder of

  • Hey Nelson, want to put up your slides on the net ?
  • an analogy for proprietary software: imagine buying a car with the hood bolted shut
    • There actually is a car with no hood (link ???); it was designed to appeal women. None of which have mechanical aptitude, right ? (heavy sarcasm :-P)
    • cars are becomming increasingly proprietary in their computerization such that you can only take your vehicle to a licensed (brand name) dealer, but there is a proposed act that would make it necessary to develop cars that can be serviced by any mechanic (link ???)
  • told the story of how he sued diebold (with help from the EFF) for using copyright law to force the takedown of hundreds of Diebold e-mails that revealed corruption with respect to the functioning of their voting machines
  • I didn't take notes :(

Lawrence Lessig, author of Free Culture (the book)

Too bad we didn't film this :( I wish I took better notes, but I was so intent on just listening... and breathing

  • we are a media generation who will learn literacy through participating in media production
  • in our cultural environment copying, remixing, and writing are as natural as breathing
    • digital storytelling in Houston ???
    • do we want a:
      • broadcast democracy or a remix democracy
      • New York Times democracy or a blog democracy
      • one more ???
  • when our tools for producing media change, should our freedoms change too ?
    • in the "old days" when books were the popular print medium, I could read a book and then lend it to a friend, but if I do that with digital books (thus making a copy), I am breaking the law. Also, when I buy a book, no one can tell me how many pages per day I can read, how many pages I can "read aloud" to an audience, etc. but DRM technologies in the eBook do this even for works in the public domain
    • when Disney first heard about the VCR they asked "what if someone other than the owner of the tape walks in and starts watching the film?" as if it were theft, a good foreshadowing of attitudes that would purvey into the digital era
  • we must resist !

Derek Slater of the EFF

  • Free Culture needs to taylor message to our audience
  • we do a lot of "remixing rights" stuff, but that is a narrow slice of the pie
  • appeal to consumers of media and make them realize that our rights are being stolen and sold back to us
  • EFF is a group of 25 people in an office building talking on phones, writing reports and e-mails
  • but Free Culture is everywhere, and we can really have fun in our activism (i.e. throwing concerts)
  • big content producers are carefully calculating every way in which media can be used and finding ways to control those uses
  • presenting the Slingbox, which could not exist without the "analog hole"
  • HDTV technology attempts to fill the analog hole by "downresing" [1] the picture quality or blocking the signal all together
  • interestingly enough, the analog hole was used to argue against allowing teachers to use film clips in Peter Decherney's court case (they said he could just camcord the clips)
  • some devices have a MINIMUM recording time to prevent users from conveniently getting just the song they want (don't quite understand this ???)
  • iTunes music can only be played on iTunes software, and when you upgrade the software, they can then "ratchet up" the DRM restrictions
  • instead of buying cable, we can now have stand-alone devices which connect to the internet and play videos from it (help ???)
  • EFF is for a P2P system where users pay a subscription fee and download all the music they want from it, that money being distributed to all the artists depending on their popularity

Peter Decherney, Assistant Professor of English and Cinema Studies at University of Pennsylvania

  • Is Hollywood evil? It is at least powerful and scary
  • uses media clips in his film classes
  • attempted to get an exemption from DMCA for educational use of film samples, in this sense an activist by accident
  • reasons proposal was rejected
    • licensing is the solution BUT the process is too tedious and slow-moving to be practical for a teacher who might use 50 clips in one school year
    • educators can use the analog hole by camcording a TV screen so they don't have to break DRM BUT this degrades the quality of the samples greatly and it's tedious
    • any exemption to the DMCA would be devastating to Hollywood BUT that's only true when the incumbents refuse to adapt to technological changes
  • when sound first arrived in film, major distributors colluded on the sound format, locking out competition (this pretty much crushed independent film makers including black persons' involvement in film production)

Laurie Allen of University of Pensylvania

  • U of Penn is creating a web service for tagging and annotating items in their catalogue currently entitled PennTags

Holmes Wilson of Downhill Battle

  • a go-around introducing ourselves
  • discussion/brainstorm for how to affect change on campus
  • create a library display for Free Culture (someone want to post the things in the display on a separate page, including the text about Sony Betamax case)
  • create an archive of campus activism to overcome the short-term memory of campus activism
  • student poetry chap books posted online
  • Firefox as default browser on school computers
  • ensure wireless networks are Linux-friendly
  • we can get our institutions to do the work of Free Culture activism for us if we play our cards right
    • influence profs create assignments that are related to Free Culture, (i.e. a video remix project)
  • get Firefox made the default browser on school computers
  • Let's build a website listing all the ways that you can make your campus free culture friendly!

Tim Burke, Swarthmore Professor of History, on Google Print and other digitization projects

  • this was more of a discussion than a presentation
  • Universites are an ideal point of pressure for Free Culture activism because they spend lots of money, and they are essentially the gatekeepers of knowledge
  • students can be the library's cronies and push the open content issue on administration, as they have more leverage
  • journals cost more than the cost of hiring a professor (link to the #'s ???)
  • universities fund research, professors publish their research findings in journals, and then universities have to buy back rights to their findings (of which they funded) back to libraries
  • get profs to boycott exorbetently costly journals and publish in open access journals like The Public Library of Science Journals
  • often profs can get back some of the rights to their work from the publisher just by asking
  • not only should profs publish their research openly online, but also publish their lectures online (and outstanding example is MIT Open Coursewares)
  • schools can also allow their students to participate in the creation of course content (which even MIT does not yet do)
  • opposing force: tenure in universities can be gaged by the reputation of the journals that they post in and of which they are on the editorial board
  • U.S. knows a lot about the politics of fear, and it seems to be working; Free Culture can use the politics of fear too in conveying that the right to use our media devices in the way we currently do may be threatened
  • we can get our institutions to do the work of Free Culture activism for us if we play our cards right
  • get Firefox made the default browser on school computers
  • ensure that the school networks are Linux-friendly
  • I missed many of the points of attack, HELP ???
  • educational institutions are "allergic to bad press" and we can use this to our advantage
  • lets be squeaky wheels
  • many students really want to do something, anything, to make a difference, and we need to capture their attention
  • U.S. knows a lot about the politics of fear, and it seems to be working; Free Culture can use the politics of fear too in conveying that the right to use our media devices in the way we currently do may be threatened

Hanna Sassaman of Prometheus Radio Project

  • Prometheus Radio Project has been prolific in defending the rights of citizens to create low-power community radio stations, "freeing the airwaves from corporate control
  • they do barn-raisings from start to finish in which radio studios are launched
  • although their collective approach is not the most efficient way to start a radio station, it is the most empowering one because it teaches every participant the skills needed to launch a station
  • radio stations have served as a fundamental communicatons link for many communities working to defend their rights as citizens, especially poorer rural regions where broadband providers do not lay their lines (need example write-ups link ???)
  • National Association of Broadcasters a huge lobby group representing the interests of media giants, faked a technical problem, saying that radio stations needed more space between existing channels than has been proven by members of Prometheus Radio Project (links anyone ???). They were pivotal in getting the Radio Broadcast Preservation Act passed, which made it such that stations must be an unnecessarily long distance away from other stations in range.
  • This act was crushing for low-power independent radio stations, as it made it near impossible to get licenses because the airwaves where hogged by commercial radio stations like the ones owned by ClearChannel [2]
  • Translator stations are low-power FM stations that take another FM signal and extend it's range by rebroadcasting just within the range of that station. They have been used to monopolize the airwaves by creating a satelite network of low-power stations all broadcasting the same channel.
  • Prometheus Radio Project does internships for research projects. Give them a shout if you can give a hand.

Workshops and Lighting Talks

Audio Remixing Workshop by Karen Rustad student at Scripps College

Video Remixing Workshop by , and Rob Matthews, student at Swarthmore College

  • introduced ??? software (proprietary, he wishes it wasn't)
  • told the story of how Fox pressed charges on him for remixing "The Family Guy", but later turns around and offers him a job to do just that as a Family Guy promotion

Chanting Up Free Culture by Justin the Wikinator

The International Free Culture Movement by Elizabeth Stark

  • invited us to join the iCommons Summit in Rio de Janero (scolarships available, apply here)

Miscellaneous notes

  • funny/sad to see so many people browsing websites (especially BoingBoing) on their laptops over the wireless network while people were presenting
  • the station manager for WQHS was there
  • The Grey Video
  • Stop the COPE act
  • The Amen Break, a fine example of the power of remixing
  • Electric Sheep - the coolest eye candy I have ever seen ! Featured at our Pirate Party
  • there exists a device which rips large amounts of CD in batch and stores them in mp3, ogg, or FLAC format (kind of like a scanner for music). Unfortunately it requires very expensive proprietary software called PowerFile. We discussed the possibility of developing an open

source version of the software.

Outside Contributions