<-- The Filter --> June 2007

July 9, 2007
[0] From the Center
[1] Features
[2] Networked: Bookmarks, Webcasts, Podcasts, and Blogposts
[3] Global Voices: Digital Dose of Global Conversations
[4] Community Links
[5] Upcoming Conferences
[6] Staying Connected
[7] Filter Facts


[0] From the Center

Openness is at the core of much of what we do at the Berkman Center. Indeed, it's arguably an element in all of our activities.  A general bias towards it -- whether in knowledge, technology, markets, learning, governance -- is one of the few more or less universal perspectives our community shares.  As such, it is a strand that runs through much of our work in both form and substance.  Whether it's the OpenNet Initiative advancing transparency in censorship, the Digital Learning Challenge taking on limitations to free and appropriate use of digital media for learning, or last month's Harvard Internet & Society conference focusing on issues of openness around the production, dissemination, and use of knowledge, we combine diverse perspectives, sources of information, and analysis in search of the truth.  In nearly every respect, our scholarship has been enabled by the very same openness we seek to promote, thus reinforcing our commitment to the general principle.  This approach does not come without costs, but they are far outweighed by the benefits, which are nothing less than the foundation of a free and democratic society.

-- Colin Maclay, Managing Director, Berkman Center --

The Berkman Center is also looking for an Assistant Director/Clinical Fellow for our Cyberlaw Clinic.  The application deadline is July 20th.  Please visit our employment page <http://cyber.harvard.edu/home/clinical_fellow_2007> to learn about and apply for this opportunity and more.


[1] FEATURES: a bit of what's going on at Berkman and where to read more

Universities to RIAA: Take a Hike
by Charles Nesson & John Palfrey

Recently, the president of the Recording Industry Association of America, Cary Sherman, wrote to Harvard to challenge the university administration to stop acting as a "passive conduit" for students downloading music. We agree. Harvard and the 22 universities to which the RIAA has sent "pre-litigation notices" ought to take strong, direct action...and tell the RIAA to take a hike.
This Spring, 1,200 pre-litigation letters arrived unannounced at universities across the country.  The RIAA promises more will follow. These letters tell the university which students the RIAA plans on suing, identifying the students only by their IP addresses, the "license plates" of Internet connections. Because the RIAA does not know the names behind the IP addresses, the letters ask the universities to deliver the notices to the proper students, rather than relying upon the ordinary legal mechanisms.

Universities should have no part in this extraordinary process. The RIAA's charter is to promote the financial interests of its corporate members – even if that means preserving an obsolete business model for its members. The university's charter is quite different. Harvard's charter reflects the purposes for which it was founded in 1636: "The advancement of all good literature, arts, and sciences; the advancement and education of youth in all manner of good literature, arts, and sciences; and all other necessary provisions that may conduce to the education of the ... youth of this country...."

The university strives to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take best advantage of their educational opportunities. The university has no legal obligation to deliver the RIAA's messages. It should do so only if it believes that's consonant with the university's mission.

We believe it is not.

Universities are special places, set off in time and space for students to have an opportunity most will not again have: to learn together in a community that cherishes openness above all else. If the university is perceived as doing the bidding of any particular industry, the message we’re sending to students is that the university is willing to let commercial interests intrude.

Of course there are times when that intrusion is warranted. The horror of Virginia Tech is on all our minds and in our hearts.  There are far lesser justifications for allowing the arms of government and commerce to interrupt the secular sanctity of the university's educational space. But protecting claims of copyright – whether or not legitimate claims – by passing along messages requiring students to pay lump sums to record companies just doesn't warrant the betrayal of student's trust and privacy.

The university does have an obligation to teach our students to be good citizens.  Good citizens should be accountable for their actions.  If our students are breaking the law, they should pay the price.  That’s not the issue here.  The RIAA has already sued well over 10,000 people, including many students, directly.  They seem to be engaging in a classic tactic of the bully facing someone much weaker: threatening such dire consequences that the students settle without the issue going to court.  The issue is that the university should not be carrying the industry’s water in bringing lawsuits.

The subtitle of the RIAA's own press release puts a far more pleasant gloss on this: "New Program Invigorates Campus Conversations About Consequences For Illegal Downloading."

If the RIAA wants to stimulate conversation, then it should engage in genuine dialogue.  Come join us on campus. Come talk to the digital natives who are our students, to the faculty who care about fair intellectual property protections, and to the university counsel and technical teams who manage our strategies and operations in cyberspace.  The RIAA should be asking, along with the rest of us, if we can come up with models that reward artists for their work while allowing the maximum circulation and use of their creations, as our Founding Fathers intended.

We should also be discussing the most important issue of all. Universities provide an open space in which every idea can be heard and discussed. Every limitation on the circulation of ideas works directly against the university's mission. How can we open up more ideas, more works, more conversations, while, of course, preserving the legitimate rights of creators? How can we make the university far more open than it is now?  How can universities – just like the RIAA – embrace a digital future and make the most of its opportunities?

Being the unpaid enforcement arm of the provincial interests of the RIAA is no part of the answer to these questions.

About Charles Nesson:
About John Palfrey:
UNIVERSITY and the RIAA conference working group:

An Open Source Approach to Fixing Public Media Funding
by Doc Searls

Christopher Lydon's RadioOpenSource is one of the best programs on radio. It's not about open source code, but about radio modeled on open source values and methods. As the show puts it, Open Source has become one of the most talked-about experiments in public media — a civil union of online and on-air communities that trust each other to talk about pretty much anything.

Right now the project is looking for funding directly from listeners and other participants. So the rescue ships are approaching the harbor, and still the wolf is at the door.

What we need is an open source project, or code put together from a number of existing projects, to reduce the friction involved in paying for public media — and at the same time to increase the opportunities for participation by listeners, producers and everybody else with something to contribute.

This is the first development project we've taken on at ProjectVRM (Vendor Relationship Management). If you care about public media, or just about fixing markets by making buyers more independent of sellers — yet better able to relate to sellers, on the buyer's terms as well as the seller's terms — we could use your help.

To show the problem we're trying to solve, here's an interesting exercise. Take any educated crowd of adult Americans. Ask how many listen to public radio. Nearly all hands will go up. Then ask how many pay for it. All but about 10% of the hands will go down. Then ask how many would make the effort if paying were easy. Nearly all the hands go up again.

Clearly there is too much friction involved. That even goes for online payments. So we need a new model — one that radically improves on the one that's been used for as long as listener-supported radio has been around. That would be since 1949, when Pacifica, which was born, twenty-two years before NPR started up. What we came to call public broadcasting has had a high-friction funding model based on appeals for donations by listeners. These are facilitated by a combination of fund-raising "pledge breaks" and old fashioned direct-marketing, mostly to current and former contributors.

Pacifica pioneered pledge breaks, which they called "marathons". Public radio in general copied the system, supplementing listener sponsorship with underwriting by what today have become the equivalent of advertisers.

RadioOpenSource's appeal follows the former model, but also short-circuits the distribution chain along which public media programming customarily flows toward listeners, and along which the money flows back up. That chain begins with program producers (such as RadioOpenSource) and runs through distributors (NPR, PRI, American Public Media, PRX) to stations (what you hear on a radio or through your computer or other online listening device). Stations are the retailers.

Stations-as-retailers is a system that is commonly misunderstood. What we call "NPR stations" are not run by NPR. Nor do they get money from NPR. They pay NPR for programs. In fact NPR takes no money directly from listeners. They get paid by stations, which buy programming from NPR and other suppliers. Yesterday I was talking to a friend who said she didn't pay for NPR programming because "my tax dollars go for that". This is almost entirely wrong. Federal contributions (mostly through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) account for only 2% of NPR's income.

RadioOpenSource's short-circuit — appealing directly to listeners and others for help — is a matter of urgency. In this respect the program is squarely in a long-standing public broadcasting tradition. Since the early days of Pacifica, stations have raised money by making appeals based on the need to keep from going out of business. Self-pity isn't pretty, but it works.

That's our challenge here. We can fix this thing. This isn't 1949. We have computers now.

Here's the goal: Make it possible for listeners to pay for what they want, when they want, in any amount they like, as easily as possible. That means paying by card, over the Net, on cell phone, on a listening device, whatever.

We don't want to approach this from the stations' side. That, in fact, is a big part of the existing problem. Right now stations are all doing their own fundraising, their own ways. They all have their own methods, their own online forms, their own databases, their own CRM systems — each with their own set of "relationships" (which barely qualify for the noun), and so on. But they all work as exclusive silos. This is no different for public media than it is for most companies with CRMs. The entire burden of the "relationship" is borne by the supply side. There is little or no room for variables of the customer's own choosing on the demand side. VRM should provide a way of putting those variables together and presenting them to the supply side.

Most of the programmers I've talked to have told me there's a good chance that most of the components we probably need are already developed, or adaptable in some way. In other words, we don't need to start from zero.

David Sifry, for example, suggests this: "How about using a shortcode from your mobile phone to 'vote' on your favorite shows while they're playing? Think 'American Idol' style, and you'll immediately see how interesting and lucrative this could be. First off, you're getting your listeners and viewers more active, and what they do has an immediate effect. But what also happens is that the people formerly known as the audience are then in control - they don't get signed up on a list, they don't have to give their name, address, and credit card number."

It has been suggested that the listener doesn't need to be completely on their own here. VRM might be handled by a customer-advocating intermediary without media or silo-maintaining loyalties, such as Facebook (which has many millions of members already) or Google Checkout.

There are other ideas we've been thinking about, but I'd rather have yours.

Maybe open source can go beyond saving RadioOpenSource — and help the whole noncommercial media industry prosper.


*Note: The longer original version of this essay was posted in the Linux Journal on May 29: <http://www.linuxjournal.com/node/1000231>. Since then, RadioOpenSource -- a project led by former Berkman Fellow Christopher Lydon -- has gone on "summer hiatus" while Chris, Mary McGrath and the show's loyal contributors (they aren't just listeners) think about what Chris calls "the essential mission: seizing the epochal opportunity of the web to stretch the public conversation... to hybridize media, to enlist the audience, to extend the palette of colors in the cultural as well as the political conversation; in short to democratize and globalize one model forum of constructive talk for the new century."

That's a mission that in certain ways began here at Berkman, where Chris and Dave Winer (another Berkman alum) collaborated on putting out some of the world's first, and best, podcasts.

The approach to public radio funding we're advocating at ProjectVRM also carries that mission forward, but from a different angle: starting with listeners, rather than stations or programs.

So, while RadioOpenSource is down, its mission is not out. In fact, I'd say we're still just getting started.

About Doc Searls:
Project VRM website:
About Radio Open Source:

Berkman and CALI to Create a Legal Commons
by Gene Koo

Critics of American law schools observe that little has changed in legal education since the days of Christopher Columbus Langdell, the Harvard Law School dean who established the case method over 100 years ago. While this claim exaggerates reality, change can indeed spread slowly in law teaching and scholarship. Yet right now the Internet is opening vast new possibilities for scholarship and teaching that can transform how the next generation of lawyers learn.

To capture these opportunities, the Berkman Center is partnering with CALI (Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction) to research and develop new methods of scholarship and teaching that exploit the Internet's open and collaborative possibilities. CALI is a nonprofit consortium comprising over 200 American and Canadian law schools that has long been a leader in pushing innovation and exploring the intersection between computers and legal education. Berkman, too, has a history of developing teaching tools such as the H2O platform, the online question tool, and Berkman Island in Second Life. The partnership with CALI will provide the latest - and possibly most direct - means for Berkman faculty, fellows, and research to reach almost every law school in the nation.

While new teaching tools promise to inject dynamism into the law school classroom (new capabilities for 2007 include collaborative video annotation), the Berkman-CALI partnership will also tackle a much larger, systemic challenge: creating a commons where law professors can share their teaching materials: syllabi, "course packs," and even entire textbooks. Dubbed "eLangdell" after the Harvard dean who invented the casebook, the project will enable law teachers to assemble disparate resources into a structured coursepack or textbook, publish them to the class, and share these assembled materials with colleagues. Students can use the materials online, taking advantage of notetaking and collaboration tools, or send them to a micropress for easier reading; they benefit from both cheaper and more useful course materials.

In supporting eLangdell, Berkman advances its mission of opening access to knowledge in an area of scholarship particularly close to home. In a practical way, with real constituents, eLangdell puts into action ideas about collaboration, intellectual property, and networked knowledge that Berkman faculty and fellows have been developing for years. A potential revolution in publishing awaits.

This is a propitious moment for collaboration not just because the Internet is sufficiently mature to enable truly ambitious projects, but also because it happens to be CALI's 25th anniversary - a project which began as a joint venture of Harvard and the University of Minnesota.  Renewing the CALI-Harvard connection seems an auspicious way to observe this milestone and renew our mutual commitment to providing the best legal education possible.

About Gene Koo:
Press Release Announcing Berkman-CALI Effort:
CALI's John Mayer on "common casebooks":


Links to Berkman conversations happening online

UNIVERSITY: Knowledge Beyond Authority
[REPORT] Report on Harvard University’s Internet and Society Conference.

[ARTICLE] ‘Digital immigrants’ teaching ‘digital natives.’

[MEDIA] Online Discussion of University: Knowledge Beyond Authority.

[MEDIA] Complete Audio & Video of the Conference.

Internet Politics, Governance, and Regulation:

[ARTICLE] Chapter 2 of Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering.

[BLOGPOST] 2nd Berkman/St. Gallen Workshop on ICT Interoperability and eInnovation.

[BLOGPOST] Wendy Seltzer discussed ICANN's latest TLD policy.

Citizen Media and the Future of Journalism:

[BLOGPOST] Mary-Rose Papandrea's analysis on the limitations of student speech rights.

[BLOGPOST] David Ardia looks at citizen journalism and public records.

[BLOGPOST] Dan Gillmor on the NCAA barring blogging.

Security, Filtering and Digital Identity:

[BLOGPOST] StopBadware.org Live-Blogs the Anti-Spyware Coalition Conference They Hosted.

[NEWSFEED] OpenNet Initiative Identifies "Filtering in the News."

[BLOGPOST] Weinberger Revisits Supernova and ID Management.

[PODCAST] danah boyd on MyFriends, MySpace.


[3] Global Voices:
Digital Dose of Global Conversations

David Sasaki, Global Voices Director of Outreach, put together the monthly digest below, a collection of links to the most interesting conversations happening in the global blogosphere. Please check out Global Voices here: <http://www.globalvoicesonline.org>

Peru’s former president has surprised everyone with the announcement that he will run for the Senate in his motherland Japan while arrested in Chile.

57 years ago, a conflict began on the Korean Peninsula which later came to be called the Korean War. How do South Korean bloggers remember the anniversary now? How does it compare with the stridently anti-communist times of their childhoods? Hyejin Kim’s translations offer insight.

Here’s an ethical dilemma: a Chinese netizen mirrors a bunch of websites - including Wikipedia - by using a web proxy so that they are available to Chinese internet users behind the Great Firewall. Then he throws some Google Ads on the site to pay for the operation. But he might also be making money off of your content. Is it wrong? Plagiarism? Illegal? Here’s how Serbian blogger Danica Radovanovic dealt - or tried to deal - with the situation.

Many attendees at the TED conference in Arusha, Tanzania returned with a sense of enthusiasm and hope that trade more than aid will lead to sustained development in Africa. Here’s how Madagascar's blogosphere weighed in.

Caribbean Regional Editor Janine Mendes-Franco prods her fellow regional pundits and finds out what they would have said had they been at the Conference on the Caribbean with regional heads of state and US President George W. Bush.

Residents of a building in eastern China refuse to move to make way for new construction. Blogger reports suggest they won’t be leaving without a fight.

The international donor community has granted more aid to the Cambodian government, despite evidence they are guilty of severe human rights violations.

The first bombing of Samarra’s Al-Askari mosque in February of 2002 proved to be a juncture in the ongoing war in Iraq and the second, which took place a week ago, may prove just as critical, writes Salam Adil as he helps us sort through the storm of commentary from Iraqi bloggers.


Featuring our friends and affiliates

Free Software Foundation announces latest GNU General Public License, GPLv3

OffTheBus.Net, a new approach to campaign coverage

Shenja van der Graaf's Second Life Survey

American University, Center for Social Media: annual report on digital distribution deal-making

David Weinberger's interview series for Wired

USC Annenberg School, Center for the Digital Future: 2007 Digital Future Report

Oxford Internet Institute & Berkman Center Summer Doctoral Programme



*July 2-5: International Conference on Risks and Security of Internet & Systems - Marrakech, Morocco:

*July 8-11: Info-CybernEthics 2007 - Ethics, Cybernetics and Informatics: Info-CybernEthics 2007 - Orlando, FL:

*July 9-11: Metadata Open Forum - New York, NY:

*July 10-12: 5th International Conference on IT in Asia - Sawarak, Malayasia:

*July 11-13: Public Knowledge Project Scholarly Publishing Conference - Vancouver, Canada:

*July 11-13: 4th Sound and Music Computing Conference - Lefkada, Greece:

*July 18-20: Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security - Pittsburgh, PA:

*July 22-24: Intelligent Multimedia and Ambient Intelligence - Salt Lake City, Utah:

*August 7-9: Journalism That Matters: The DC sessions - Washington, DC:

*August 15-17: International Conference on e-Society 2007 - Hong Kong, China:

*August 17-18: Bandwidth Music & Technology Conference - San Francisco, CA:

*August 22-24: Society for Applied Learning Technology: Washington Interactive Technologies Conference - Arlington, VA:

*August 27-31: International Computer Music Conference - Copenhagen, Denmark:


How to find out about Berkman's weekly events

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We webcast every Tuesday Luncheon Series Speaker. Luncheon Series events start at 12:30 pm Eastern Time. The webcast link is <rtsp://harmony.law.harvard.edu/webcast.sdp>. You can participate live in our lunch discussions through our IRC chat channel: <irc://irc.freenode.net/Berkman> or on our island in Second Life: <http://tinyurl.com/s6tv4>. Tune in!

If you are unable to tune in to one of our events, please check out Berkman's Audio Event Archive: <http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/audioberkman>

The Berkman Center's audio and podcasts are also available through iTunes, ODEO, and Podnova.

* iTunes: <http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=1352385...
* ODEO: <http://odeo.com/channel/79770/view>
* Podnova: <http://www.podnova.com/channel/40831/>

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The Filter is a publication of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
Editor: Patrick McKiernan

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Last updated

May 5, 2008