Two Extended Consultations, Two Important Opportunities

I apologise for bringing yet more consultations to your notice, but there are a couple of reasons why I'm doing so. First, because they are both extensions of previous deadlines; that means they offer extra opportunities for us all to make our...

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I apologise for bringing yet more consultations to your notice, but there are a couple of reasons why I’m doing so. First, because they are both extensions of previous deadlines; that means they offer extra opportunities for us all to make our voices heard, and it would be irresponsible of me not to mention it. And secondly, one of the consultations – from the Cabinet Office on the subject of “Sharing or collaborating with government documents" - has gone so well in recent days, with literally hundreds of great submissions, that it suggests people are really fired up over this.

That means there are probably quite a few who would still be interested in offering their views, but who, for whatever reasons, missed the original deadline yesterday. The great news is that the consultation has now been extended until 17:00 GMT on Friday 28 February, so you have plenty of time for offering your thoughts. For your reference, here are my two columns on the subject:

Stand up for Open Standards – and ODF

Is ODF Finally Coming to UK Government?

You might also like to skim-read through the wide range of comments already there, to see what you agree/disagree with before adding your own. To comment, you need to register, but it only takes a few seconds, and is neither onerous nor intrusive.

The other extension was announced some weeks back, and so may now be buried in the mists of time. It was for the Public Consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules. You can download the main questionnaire (in ODF format if you wish, others also available) from the consultation home page and fill it in directly before submitting it via email to [email protected] Here are my two columns on the subject:

Last Chance to Submit to EU Copyright Consultation

EU Consultation on Copyright: Please Respond

Since I wrote those, an interesting document has surfaced on Paul Keller’s blog that seems to reflect some of the current thinking on copyright within the European Commission. It involves something called the “The Internet Ecosystem value tree”. Here’s how Keller explains it:

The Internet Ecosystem value tree implies that the primary purpose of the Internet – like that of all distribution channels that came before it – is to channel content from producers (the Authors/Artists/Audiovisual and Record Producers/Newspapers and Books Publishers/Broadcasters/Other Creative Industries in the schema above) to a separate group of people called Consumers. In exchange for this the Consumers will pay Distributors and Internet Platforms money for their services, which is then augmented with advertising income. Distributors and Internet Platforms use parts of their income to pay for the content.

What the Commission implies here is that if this transmission belt of Euros does not work, then the entire Internet ecosystem will die off and as a result any public policy aimed at protecting the digital environment must ensure that content producers are paid.

Given this extremely blinkered and dangerous view, it’s even more important that we get across the idea that things have changed, and that copyright is no longer about stuff being handed down from on high to a passive audience. The Internet has made things much more complicated, and much, much richer, so it’s vitally important that copyright not only sees these kind of complications as legal – and currently, it often doesn’t – but actively encourages them.

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