Excellent news for the indispensable Electronic Frontier Foundation:
- The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded a $600,000 grant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to represent the public interest at meetings of the Digital Video Broadcasting Project in Europe where global standards on digital television and other digital data services will be set.
“There are a number of influential members of the entertainment industry that use industry standard setting meetings – such as the Digital Video Broadcasting Project in Europe – as opportunities to mandate technological features that control digital media, such as devices for digital television that limit the user’s ability to copy programming for personal use or to skip commercials,” said Jonathan F. Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “By participating in such meetings, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is working to protect the rights of the user and ensure that future uses of technology are not restricted by the industry.”
“We’re so pleased that the MacArthur Foundation is supporting our work in this important area,” said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. “It’s imperative that the public interest be represented in these standards meetings, and thanks to the Foundation, we’ll be able to make sure that the public’s voice is heard.”
The Digital Video Broadcasting Project is a consortium of broadcasters, manufacturers, network operators, software developers, regulatory bodies, and others from more than 35 European countries that work together to set standards for their industry. They are currently debating copy-management standards for digital television, which will help determine the future design of televisions, video recording equipment, and video components of personal computers. At these industry meetings, policy is often set that has far-reaching implications for the future use of technology on digital rights management and intellectual property. Because these meetings have traditionally been closed to the media and the cost of attendance has limited the participation of public interest advocates, the Foundation is providing support to ensure there is input that balances the commercial interests normally represented at these meetings with those of the public.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation will use MacArthur funding to prepare for and attend industry meetings, and to educate the European public and European consumer groups about issues related to digital rights management and intellectual property.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is an organization that was established in 1990 to defend civil rights and civil liberties in cyberspace. They have worked on a number of cases that have become landmarks in establishing a legal framework for the rights and standards in a digital environment, including a case that gave email the same legal protections as phone calls and another case that determined that computer code is protected speech under the First Amendment. They are currently involved in other legal cases involving trademark law and domain names, anonymity, peer-to-peer technologies, and Internet blocking.
About the Initiative on Intellectual Property and the Long-Term Protection of the Public Domain: Through the Initiative on Intellectual Property and the Long-Term Protection of the Public Domain, the Foundation seeks to contribute to an intellectual property regime in the digital era that balances the legitimate needs of both creators and the public. Grants support policy analysis, scholarly research, and participation in significant international forums where intellectual property policy is made. The Foundation will also support work designed to protect over the long term the public domain of information and ideas.
Other recipients of support through the Foundation’s Initiative on Intellectual Property and the Long-Term Protection of the Public Domain include Creative Commons to develop and implement a new form of licensing for creative works and an intellectual property conservancy; Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society to explore the future of copyright in a digital environment; and the Center for the Study of Responsive Law to analyze the intellectual property restrictions being proposed in international agreements, such as the Hague Convention.
Grants for this initiative are made through the Foundation’s General Program.
Those seeking to make copyright as restrictive as possible are certainly well funded – this helps even things out a bit.