Archive for the ‘WIPO’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 07/02/07

July 2, 2007

[ Ordinarily “Clippings” is just that – excerpts with links. Today’s post only has three items, two of which bear including in their entirety. First is Ron Cox’s Letter to the Editor of the Malden Observer. I know Ron won’t mind your reading it here in full. Last is a fairly detailed post regarding the Knight Foundation’s 2007 “News Challenge” grants – clearly Knight too wants to get the word out as much as possible. rm ]

Letter: Don’t be fooled by Verizon propaganda
by Ron Cox
Malden Observer (MA)

To the editor:

I am writing in response to a letter written by Jack T. Yunits in the June 22 Malden Observer that was, in fact, a response to my column “Keep it Local” dated June 15.

I found it amusing that Mr. Yunits, the former mayor of Brockton, criticized my article for being “totally biased,” when in fact he is now working for the Massachusetts Consumers for Technology and Cable Choice – an acknowledged Verizon lobbying group. And, he isn’t just an ordinary lobbyist; he is their president, whose job is to speak the propaganda of the company line, which is to support this misguided Bill S1975/H3385.

Why are so many former elected officials becoming lobbyists for major companies? Maybe it’s because once they learn the ropes of state government, they see the advantage in getting paid to sway their former colleagues and other government leaders rather than run every two or four years themselves. Running for office is hard work and it costs money. Why not just make money working for giant corporations?
But back to Mr. Yunits’s letter.

He talked about the consumer benefits of a competitive cable television market, and stated that most of Massachusetts doesn’t have competition. That statement is essentially not true.

Since the late 1980s, cable companies have been invited to every community in the state – but it has only been recently that some towns and cities have received that second or third cable provider. Why? Because it has taken several years for these cable providers to build their infrastructure.

It is not because the cities and towns don’t want them. In fact, the towns and cities have been begging for them to enter into competition. The reality is while Verizon has gone into many of these municipalities and built their FIOS network, they have yet to enter into negotiations with those cities and towns.

Just ask Somerville’s Mayor Joe Curtatone. He and the mayor of Boston are both ready to sit down with Verizon and negotiate, but they have yet to even respond to a request for a proposal. What are they waiting for? Could it be that they have a chance to change the process and get a better deal for themselves by passing this bill?

The question is not whether there is competition, it’s why isn’t Verizon joining the other cable companies in competing on the same level. Both Comcast and RCN have no problem negotiating with the rules now in place. Communities such as Wakefield and Woburn have three providers, and competition is just fine.

The fact is, Verizon wants to spread disinformation so that they look like a “friend to the consumer” when the reality is they are looking out for their own self-interest. When Mr. Yunits spoke of negotiations taking 12 months to two years, look up the facts; most communities have taken seven to nine months to get perfectly good consumer-friendly contracts that have benefited their city or town.

Don’t be fooled by Verizon propaganda. Talk with residents from other communities, especially in Texas where my brother lives. Verizon was able to pass a statewide franchise bill there, and ever since cable bills by all the providers have gone up – not down.

Keep it real. Keep it local.
Ron Cox, Executive Director, MATV

WIPO broadcast treaty defeated by web activists
Copyright add-on fails to find consensus
The Register

A controversial new intellectual property right due to be created by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has been successfully opposed by a coalition of web activists and the technology industry. WIPO has spent nearly 10 years gathering international agreement over a new deal for broadcasters which would give them intellectual property rights over broadcasts which would exist in addition to existing copyright laws.

But a campaign spearheaded by activist groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and involving thousands of podcasters and bloggers, joined with technology industry giants such as Intel and defeated the move last week. —>

Knight News Challenge 2007: unofficial guide for applicants
by Dave Domingo
Digital Utopia

Starting today, and until October 15, media innovators have a second chance to submit their projects to the Knight Foundation up-to-5-million-dollar News Challenge grants. “Before you apply, study last year’s winners”, the organizers recommend. A good resource is the fantastic series of interviews by E-Media Tidbits. But I found difficult to get the big picture, so here are the facts in a nutshell:

Criteria. In the 2006 edition, 1,650 applications where received and only 25 were selected, the grants ranging between $15.000 and $5 million. Gary Kebbel, one of the persons directly involved in the selection process, explained to Tidbits editor Amy Grahran that they were looking for projects which:

* Involved innovative uses of digital media
* Would help to build, bind or create a sense of community
* Focused on a specific geographic area
* Would make the results of their work available to all: free, open source, with open standards.
* Offered the broadest appeal and greatest replicability, and projects that will continue to grow and take on a life of their own.

Profiles. Most of the winners of the first edition are veteran activists and researchers in online media, but there is also a 20-year-old Information Systems graduate student. Even though profiles are hybrid in many cases, academics and activists are the ones involved in most of the winning projects:
9 were led by universities
7 by citizen media activists
3 by professional journalists
3 by software developers
2 by consultants
Only one mainstream media company (MTV) was awarded last year. For the 2007 edition, Kebbel suggested they wanted more “young people and more international applications”.

Content. The official categories for the News Challenge projects are Ideas, Pilot projects, Leadership projects, and Commercial products. Regardless of this, I feel that 2006 grant winners can be organized into five different kinds of projects: framework projects (6) aiming to be incubators of actual citizen media projects; software development projects (7), mainly in the areas of information mapping and content management; reporting projects (5), focused in citizen journalists’ training; games-as-news projects (3), exploring playful ways for storytelling; and other projects (4) ranging from citizen-media law databases to exploring new newsroom models. Here is a list of the projects based on these categories (I will be adding links to the projects websites as they become available):

* Framework projects: This projects are meant to foster new developments in citizen media software and strategies. Many seek to make journalism and programming students meet to create new applications.
o MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media.
o Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University journalism scholarships for programmers.
o Arizona State University’s Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
o Innovation Incubators Project, by seven US academic institutions, led by Park School of Communication at Ithaca College.
o Global Voices’ program to foster activist bloggers in developing countries.
o Steven Clift’s Ideas Factory.

* Software development: The first four projects are related to mapping information to make it more easy to access by citizens, relating it to specific locations.
o Adrian Holovaty’s Every Block, a public databases visualization tool inspired in his previous project
o Placeblogger, proposing an universal geotagging standard.
o Dan Schultz, works on a GPS-based news management system.
o Paul Lamb and Leslie Rule develop a GPS tracking system to tailor information for mobile users.

The rest of the projects in this category are focused in content management tools for citizen media.
o Village Soup will create an open-source version of their citizen media sites content management system.
o Benjamin Melançon is developing a Drupal module called Related items.
o JD Lasica’s blog Social Media will follow and analyze innovations in community media software.

* Reporting projects: These are mainly devoted to develop training for citizen journalists.
o MTV will fund youngsters to cover the US presidential campaign
o The Chicago citizen news site Chi-Town Daily News will train 75 neighborhood reporters.
o The Media Mobilizing Project by Indymedia Philadephia will train 40 immigrants to do video reports.
o Boulder Carbon Tax Tracker, a weblog fostering the debate between experts, public officers and citizens on this local issue.
o Jay Rosen will be blogging about how beat reporters can work with social networks to improve their reporting.

* Games as news: These projects explore gaming as a new way to explain news.
o The Gotham Gazette, a citizen news site in New York, will produce “news games” to engage their readers and help them understand local policy decision-making.
o The Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota will create prototypes that will let journalists develop game-like scenarios for community issues.
o Paul Grabowicz, at the University of California, will create a video game recreating the Oakland jazz and blues club era.

* Other projects:
o Citizen Media Law Project, at Harvard University, provides legal information and advice to citizen journalists.
o The Duke Chronicle, student run newspaper at Duke University, will explore new newsroom configurations for a digital converged environment.
o Dori Maynard will blog about creating and maintaining diversity in digital media.
o G. Patton Hughes will blog about making his hyperlocal web site,, a financial success.

Applications. The 2007 applicants must register before filling in the forms with their project data. This year you can make your project idea public in the News Challenge site and have feedback from other registered users to improve the project if you submit it early enough. Users will be able to rate the projects, therefore helping to the final decision of the Knight Foundation. Look forward to the list of public projects in the following weeks. Be inspired and inspiring, check the official FAQ for common doubts and… good luck!

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/20/07

June 20, 2007

Cities expect cable-TV law to bite twice
by Josh Jarman
The Columbus Dispatch (OH)

Cities and school districts worry they’ll lose money and TV time for local programs when the governor signs a bill that gives cable companies the right to negotiate statewide contracts rather than hundreds of local contracts.  The Senate yesterday concurred with changes the House made to the cable-regulation bill. Senate Bill 117 now waits for Gov. Ted Strickland’s signature to become law…

Another worry for many communities is how the bill will affect local access channels. The bill changes the regulation of local channels and allows cable providers to drop channels that it thinks are under-used in some instances.  That throws into question how well public-access channels can be maintained by some communities.

Newark schools use the channels for the high-school broadcasting class and run advertisements for local nonprofits and church groups.  “Of course we want as many people as possible to see our stations,” said Karen Truett, district spokeswoman.

The uncertainty is troubling, said Scott Burke, who operates Lancaster Schools Network under contract to the Lancaster city school system.  The network carries City Council and Board of Education meetings, and some limited local, educational programming in a monthly program called Chalkmarks TV.   —>

State Senate approves cable bill
by Kartikay Mehrotra
Kane County Chronicle (IL)

With the approval of a bill in the state Senate’s overtime session, Springfield legislators almost unanimously have stated cable competition will improve under state control rather than local regulation…

The bill has gone through numerous drafts because of adamant opposition from the Illinois Municipal League and local officials, including Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and the village’s Information Technologies Manager Peter Collins.  Although the IML resolved to neutrality over the final draft of the bill, Collins remains opposed to the legislation describing the approved version as “less awful.”

“Before we had local control, now any company has a right to apply for a statewide franchise and the city is supposed to enforce it,” Collins said. “I don’t understand why [Schmitz] backed this, I won’t have any problem sending any cable complaints I have to his office.”   —>

Cable competition bill passes
Blagojevich’s signature needed before measure becomes law
by Adriana Colindres
State Journal-Register (IL)

Legislation on its way to Gov. Rod Blagojevich would create thousands of jobs and attract $1 billion in new investments while encouraging competition in Illinois’ cable TV and video-services market, supporters said Tuesday.  Still unknown, however, is whether Blagojevich intends to sign Senate Bill 678 into law.  A spokeswoman for the governor said the bill is “under review.”   —>

WilliNet Broadcasts National Town Meeting June 29 & July 1 (MA)
by Gail Burns

Williamstowm, MA – WilliNet, community channel 17 in Williamstown, will broadcast “Why Media Diversity Matters,” on Friday, June 29 at 9pm and Sunday, July 1 at 8pm.  Distributed by Free Speech TV, “Why Media Diversity Matters” features author, commentator, and talk show host Tavis Smiley, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, LCCR President and CEO Wade Henderson, and other distinguished speakers for a one-of-a-kind event on the importance of media diversity.   —>

Plan for city TV channel delayed
by David Tewes
Victoria Advocate (TX)

A request for funding that would allow the city to use cable television to get the latest information out on a hazardous materials accident or to warn people about an approaching hurricane was temporarily put on hold Tuesday by the Victoria City Council.

The council was asked to come up with $12,000 in the next budget to buy the software and equipment the city needs to broadcast information around the clock on a dedicated Suddenlink Communications channel.

But council members said the city needs to check with the school district, county and others to see if they would also be willing to help fund the project since they would also have access to the cable channel.  “If we don’t start it off right now, it’s going to be hard to get them signed on,” Mayor Will Armstrong said. “I think we need to present our program to the other governmental bodies.”   —>

Editorial: On camera – Televising city government meetings will help taxpayers
News Times Live (CT)

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says Danbury TV, which will provide coverage of city government meetings, will be “like MTV.”  Dancing Common Council members? Singing developers? Well, not quite.

But watching local public meetings from the comfort and convenience of home can be compelling — primarily because the viewers are experts on the subject matter.  It’s their money that’s being spent. Their streets that are being developed. Their city’s problems that are being discussed.

It’s been something of a struggle to get to this point — the creation of Danbury TV and the televising of government meetings.  Boughton and the Republicans who hold the majority on the Common Council did not want government meetings on TV. Minority Democrats did, although when they were in the majority they didn’t.

But some public pressure (notably from local public access television host Lynn Waller) and common sense won the day.   —>

Legislature on TV would benefit state
More citizens would get involved if process was more transparent
The Coloradoan (CO)

An Emmy may not be on the horizon, but Coloradans will benefit if a proposal to televise the state Legislature comes to fruition.

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said party leaders are working to iron out legal, technical and financial issues to get the sessions televised, according to The Associated Press. Comcast Corp. has agreed to provide two cable channels — one for each chamber, according to AP. Sessions also may be archived and accessed on the Internet for those who missed the live broadcast.

Cost will be about $30,000 a year. This is a small amount of money to pay for broader public access to a process that leaves many Coloradans in the dark — making law and statutes.   —>

TV for Legislators?
by Rick Brand
Newsday Spin Cycle (NY)

The Suffolk Legislature is weighing whether to hit the TV airwaves.  A resolution, sponsored by Legis. Edward Romaine (R-Center Moriches), to explore the feasability of televising legislative meetings made it out of the Ways and Means Committee Wednesday. It could be voted on as early as next week.

Even before passage of the measure, Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said his office has been informally exploring the idea for several months, but indicated there might be significant logistical problems to overcome.

The legislature already has taken its first electronic steps. Audio of meetings is available on the county’s intranet, and by August will be available to the public over the Internet on the county’s website.  But to hit cable TV, the county would need to go to each town that has a cable contract to gain access for its meetings on the town’s government and education or public access channel.

Even if approval is forthcoming, the question is whether there is enough available time to include full legislative meetings — which on average are seven hours long. The alternative is to edit down the proceedings, but Lindsay worries about the political implications. “That would be like walking into quicksand,” Lindsay said.

WIPO Side-Event Highlights Exceptions, Limitations In Broadcasting Treaty
by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen
Intellectual Property Watch

Concerns that a new treaty on broadcasting being discussed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) this week will be unbalanced, providing extra protection rights for broadcasters and further limits to users, was the topic of an event alongside the negotiation. The impact on developing countries was of particular concern.

Negotiations on treaty to boost the rights of broadcasters and cablecasters, which have lasted for more than eight years, are taking place at the 18-22 June meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyrights and Related Rights (IPW, Broadcasting, 19 June 2007) …

Viviana Munoz Tellez of the South Centre said that the impact of such a treaty was likely to be significant for national broadcasting policy and regulatory frameworks, copyright owners, customers and citizens, competitors as well as new media technology development. Referring to an earlier study by the South Centre, she stressed the need in the treaty for access to knowledge, freedom of expression, cultural diversity, competition, technological innovation and flow of information.

“Broadcasting as a public service is critical for development,” Munoz Tellez said, adding that most people in developing countries get their information, education and entertainment mainly from radio and television. She said that the ideal broadcasting scenario for developing countries would be “characterised by plurality and diversity in the number of players in the sector, forms of broadcasting, i.e., public-private and community, and content.” She also stressed accessibility and affordability.   —>

AT&T Launches Video Share in 3 Markets
by Rhonda Wickham
Wireless Week

CHICAGO— Kicking off NXTcomm, AT&T’s Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson gave show attendees a taste of Video Share, the operator’s latest service that lets subscribers share live video over capable Video Share wireless devices during a voice call. The service is commercially available in Atlanta, Dallas and San Antonio. And the operator plans to expand the offering to 160 of its 3G markets by late July.

Customers can choose from two services packages: one for $4.99 a month for 25 minutes of Video Share usage, or $9.99 a month for 60 minutes of usage. Alternately, customers can pay 35 cents a minute each time they use the service.

The operator is offering four compatible handsets: the LG CU500v, Samsung a707, a 717 and a727. By the end of the year, the operator plans to add another seven capable handsets.  According to Janna Ducich, executive director of AT&T’s Messaging Products, only the sender pays to send the 15 frames-per-second video.

Ducich says the application offers interesting possibilities for consumers as well as business users. For instance, consumers can share live video of moments as they happen with family and friends such as a baby’s first steps or a child’s first soccer goal. In business applications, there are opportunities in real estate showings, accident investigations or other time-saving applications.   —>

RexSpeak: MNspeak’s Founder Discusses, Lileks, and the Future of Citizen Journalism
by Paul Schmelzer
Minnesota Monitor

—>   Schmelzer: You were at the fore of the “placeblogging” movement — intensely local community blogging. What do you think makes a good community blog? And given your own thoughts on the matter, what’s your assessment of James Lileks and how he’s running

Sorgatz:  Starting MNspeak, I began with a set of principles of what a community blog needs to succeed: unique features, a network of engaged people, a decent design, a flexible platform, and so on. It wasn’t until I moved away from Minneapolis that I realized all of those attributes represent the bare minimum. I realized later that a community blog actually works a lot like any other publication — it needs one characteristic more than anything else: voice. It’s really not that different from when I used to work on magazines: a handful of people set the general tone which then organically aggregates similarly- minded people.

This might sound contrary to how we usually formulate “community” — as a collection of diverse voices. But every community needs some common ground, some guidelines that subliminally frame how conversation works. For better or worse, community is not everyone — it is a defined group. Community is, by definition, a limitation.   —>

Online Community: Just what is a copyright violation? Viacom vs. Google
by Mike Rowland
The Future of Communities

In case you missed it, there is a great explanation of the two views of the world of online copyright being fought over right now by Viacom and Google. At the All Things Digital Conference held a couple of weeks ago, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman gave his outline of what is covered and not covered under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) regarding copyright and how he views Google’s YouTube violations of that Act. Giving equal time, there is also an interview with Chad Hurley and Steven Chen, the founders of Google’s YouTube…

Your local cable access station cannot let you sign up for free air time and then show an episode of the Colbert Report you recorded at home, why should the internet be any different? As companies such as Apple and Microsoft work to bring television to the web and help define the industry, sites allowing video uploads should be held to the same standards as local cable access television stations. The principles are the same. It will be very interesting to see how the courts rule. Of course, given the money involved, there will most likely be a deal announced in the next couple of months between Viacom and Google so the law will not be examined as it should.

In terms of the uncertainty right now over the DMCA and online user generated content, we advise our clients to scan their site and remove blatant copyrighted materials uploaded as they find them. For example, message board posts that contain images from Warner Brothers or Disney cartoons are edited. Videos and photos from television shows or movies are edited or removed. When community managers make a “best effort” to remove copyrighted materials, the firm has a defense against the inevitable lawsuit. With copyright confusion, the best defense is a good offense.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media