Tag Archives: law

Copyright and Vagueness

Bradley E. Abruzzi has published an article discussing the relationship between copyright and the “vagueness doctrine.” From the abstract:

The Constitution’s void-for-vagueness doctrine is itself vaguely stated. The law does little to describe at what point vague laws – other than those that are entirely standardless – might be unconstitutionally vague. Rather than explore this territory, the Supreme Court has identified three “collateral factors” that affect its inclination to invalidate a law for vagueness…

Thanks to Christine A. Corcos for the link.

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Open Education issues from around the globe

Wikieducator: Wikieducator is launched in Germany
and Mexico. WikiEducator is a community resource supported by the Commonwealth of Learning for the development of free educational content. Workshops (in English) are being offered by both jurisdictions.

Brazil 1: Brazilian law 8.313, of December, 23 de 1991 (known as Lei Rouanet), which allows public investments and tax exceptions for cultural and educational projects, is under review. Until today – May, 06, 2009 – the bill of law introduced (in Portuguese) in the congress is open to public consultations.  Civil society groups and Media and entertainment lobby are running to prepare their opinions. Regarding education, the proposed article 49 is the one that called the most attention. It says – if literally translated into English:

Article 49. The Ministry of Culture and other organs of the Federal Public Administration may have the right to explore the cultural goods and services financed with public resources for non-commercial and non-onerous purposes, after a three-year  reservation period of rights of use on the work.

Sole Paragraph.: The use of goods treated in this article, if for educational purposes, and equally non-onerous, shall be given after a reservation period of one year and six months.

The industry position is against this part of the law, while the civil society position tries to expand it by bringing the idea, for example, of the taxpayer’s right to access and use works that received public funds. Academics positioned with groups involved in civil society also propose that no reservation period should be granted to the particular interest of the author, and when the work has any public interest related to it, the possibility of use by the State should be immediately granted. There is also concern regarding the difficult and blurred language of the law. In this area, academics ask for specifications in the public funding grant agreement or instrument, pro public interest. Also, many ask for the expansion of possibility of use not just by federal authorities, but also by state and municipal authorities. In this sense a municipal public school could use a documentary film without specific authorization from the copyright holder, since the law establishes this license in advance and as a condition of the granting instrument.

Brazil 2: Pearson launched in Brazil at the end of 2008 the Pearson Copyleft Project. The site has received 78224 visits and is currently hosting 379 publications, which have been downloaded 7894 times.  However, many aspects are still not clear or well delimited. First, the content one may find in this site is not from Pearson. Pearson is just providing an upload/download platform that supports traditional formats, such as txt, xls, ppt, pps, doc, pdf, docx, xlsx, pptx, ppsx, not allowing generative effects of the knowledge web. Also, there is no specific copyright notice on the site or under the terms of use of the site.  The only place the user interested in using the content or author interested in sharing his work will find the issue of how his or her copyright will be treated and explored is under the site’s Q&A section (in Portuguese). After reading 10 of the questions and answers related in some degree to copyright, we conclude that the project is accepting and distributing online content through something similar to a CC-BY-NC – however Creative Commons is not, at any moment, mentioned in the site. Pearson does not reserve to itself any right to the content that was voluntarily uploaded by authors. Questions regarding this and other issues the site brings up to face were sent to the contact email in the site, which has not yet responded. We will report back here when we know more.