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Exclusive interview with prominent blogger, David Farrar

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Freelance journalist writing for Wikinews, Gabriel Pollard, with help from Brian Anderton, has interviewed New Zealand-based blogger, David Farrar on blogging, web 2.0, and the Internet in general.

David Farrar is most known for his “fairly popular” blog, Kiwiblog, where he posts on various topics, including politics and technology. He is the vice-president of the Internet Society of New Zealand, and has been involved in helping to split Telecom New Zealand up and in anti-spam legislation.

David Farrar first started using the “best invention ever,” Internet, in February 1996 after having owned a BBC Micro microcomputer since 1982. On the Internet he debated various issues using Usenet newsgroups. Kiwiblog now serves for this purpose. He then got his own personal Internet account with ihug in August of that year.

Farrar also has political ties, which can be seen in some of his blog posts. For eight years, Farrar worked for various Prime Ministers (PM) and Opposition leaders for the National Party, working with the likes of former PM Jim Bolger and former PM Jenny Shipley in the Media Services Unit of Ministerial Services.

Until Farrar landed himself a job in parliament, he had been using mainly Apple computers, “[I] finally converted to Microsoft in 1997 after being the only person in Parliament to have a Mac!”

Farrar was involved with introducing public e-mail for ministers, and the first Prime Minister website.

In 2004, after leaving politics, Farrar set up his polling and research company.

Kiwiblog, sparked by now defunct blog NZ Pundit by Gordon King, currently receives over 300,000 visitors a month. He suspects that Russell Brown, and the Spareroom blogs get well over 100,000 visitors. “There’s then probably a dozen or so other bloggers who get into the tens of thousands.”

“Gordon [King] would post wonderful polemics challenging the conventional thinking and reporting, and after a few months of reading him I realized that I also had views and could try sharing them with the world. So in July 2003 I made my first post, and enjoyed it ever since.”

Farrar admits to not having a deliberate strategy for promoting himself and his blog, he just found that doing more posts in a day and posting what he was interested in got the visitors that were interested in the same things. “Oh and most important of all is to have a sense of humour and enjoy doing it.”

If Farrar wasn’t blogging, he says he would be “Earning money! I spend far too long blogging when I should be working on more business. However it is doing well enough that I can divide my time up between my business, InternetNZ and blogging and not starve.”

Farrar has a few tips for those politicians who have started a blog, or are looking at starting one up, “Very few are successful because [they] treat it as a one way communication tool where they just post press releases or travel diaries. Rodney Hide is the best example of doing it the right way. John Key is video blogging and responding to comments through future videos, which is a different way to interact.” But still warns that most readers of blog prefer “honest opinion” instead of reading what the politicians want them to read.

Farrar is a huge supporter of Wikipedia and says that he uses it multiples times a day. He says that he was “very proud” when the Wikipedia community regarded him as notable enough to have his own entry.

“I wish I had more time to edit Wikipedia. There’s lots more NZ content to get onto there.”

Sites like YouTube, which Farrar uses daily, show that they can leave big brand names like Google Video for dead if they show strong innovation, Farrar says.

Farrar says the success to websites such as Wikipedia and YouTube is because of multiple user generated content, “…rather than tightly controlled content from one source.” The focus on the community at large is also a major factor of their success.

When asked where he sees the Internet in decades from now, his simple response was, “I wish I knew.” But he does predict every house in New Zealand will be connected to the Internet via fibre optics.

One scenario Farrar drew was, “…being able to see a map of your local area on your phone, and not just get told where the nearest toilets or bookstore is, but also if any of your friends are nearby.”

David Farrar would just like to say thanks for the opportunity of being interviewed on Wikinews.

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Jul
17

Adventures In Boat Building Your Own Grand Banks Dory

By Sanjib Ahmad

Imagine having your boat, and not just an ordinary boat. Imagine building with your own hand and being the proud owner of a Grand Bankers Dory.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines dory as:

Dory n. pl. Dories

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A small, narrow, flatbottom fishing boat with high sides and a sharp prow.

The common Dory size ranges from 10 feet to 14 feet in length and can hold from 3 to 5 persons. A Grand Banks Dory is usually 16 feet in length. The traditional Grand Banks Dory is also notable as a seaworthy vessel. The fishermen have successfully sailed with the Dory many miles of the North Atlantic Ocean under varied weather conditions.

The Grand Banks Dory has a strong shear line. The outward curve of sides near the bow is well defined. The Dory also has a sharp entry point so that it cuts through the water easily and with speed. The bottom of the boat is flat and doesn’t have keels or skegs. This makes the boat slide along waves with little resistance. The Dory rows well and can be fitted with a sail rig.

The Grand Banks Dory could be built from your home and in your pastime. It could be a relaxing hobby while providing the opportunity to showoff your friends and family that you are building a boat. You don’t need carpentry skills to build your Grand Banks Dory but it can help if you do.

You can build your own 16 Foot long Grand Banks Dory in as little as 2 – 3 weeks. All of the materials needed for this project can be picked up at any local hardware store and lumberyard. The recommended method to plank your boat is with White Pine.

The Grand Banks Dory is a great investment. If properly cared for, it can easily last 30+ years.

If you want to learn how-to build your own Grand Banks Dory you can try Wilbert Weir’s step-by-step instructional ebook Banker Dory Plans.

About the Author: Sanjib Ahmad – Freelance Writer and Product Consultant for Sports-rec.Marc8.com (

sports-rec.marc8.com/

). You are free to use this article in its entirety as long as you leave all links in place, do not modify the content, and include the resource box listed above.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=8734&ca=Recreation

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Jul
17

Category:July 14, 2010

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Category:July 14, 2010

? July 13, 2010
July 15, 2010 ?
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Pages in category “July 14, 2010”

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Jul
17

RTÉ’s Eddie Hobbs attracts massive audience">
RTÉ’s Eddie Hobbs attracts massive audience

Thursday, August 25, 2005

In Ireland, RTÉ’s new “Rip Off Republic” TV series has attracted a record audience of 667,000 for its second show, making it one of Ireland’s top TV programs. The second show broadcast on Monday 15th August captured 50.5% of all TV viewers in Ireland.

The series which contains four shows broadcast from Dublin City University’s “Helix” centre, aims to expose over pricing and the exploitation of consumers in Ireland. Hosted by financial advisor Eddie Hobbs, the show has attracted huge media commentry, particularly as it has attracted the attention of the governments main party, Fianna Fail.

The main argument against the show has been that it generalises issues and makes exaggerated claims – for example it claimed that restaurants make a 300%+ profit on a typical bottle of wine, leading the viewer to believe that all businesses are making such a profit. This claim has since come under attack by restaurant owners nationwide. Other arguments against the show have stated that while inflation is less than 3%, wage growth is over 6% meaning people are still better off.

The third show will be broadcast on 29th August at 9.30pm on RTÉ One. It will focus on the transport sector in Ireland.

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Jul
17

LDS church names Monson their new president">
LDS church names Monson their new president

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints named Thomas Spencer Monson their 16th president at a press conference on Monday after being ordained the day before.

Monson, at 80 years old, succeeds Gordon B. Hinckley, who died January 27 and was buried on Saturday.

“Hinckley’s passing has affected all of us,” Monson said at the press conference held at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, Utah. “We shall miss him, yet he has left us with a wonderful legacy.”

Monson says he intends to continue Hinckley’s legacy, and that he expects “no abrupt changes from the courses [the church] [has] been pursuing.”

Monson named Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf the First and Second Counselors, respectively, of the First Presidency, which is the highest governing body of the church.

“I learned quickly in the church that we’re not representing a nation or country or ethnic group,” said Uchtdorf, a native German. “We are … representing the Church of Jesus Christ.”

The LDS church follows a pattern of succession in choosing a new president. When the president dies, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is handed the position. Boyd K. Packer will now serve as President of the Quorum, after years of serving as the Quorum’s acting president.

Monson simultaneously served as both First Counselor and President of the Quorum under Hinckney’s administration due to his seniority. He also served as Second Counselor under the previous two presidents of the church. He was first called to be an apostle in 1963 at the age of 36.

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Jul
16

Do You Need Clutch Replacement In Arizona?

byAlma Abell

An owner of a vehicle with a manual transmission definitely should know the signs that Clutch Replacement in Arizona is needed. The clutch is a very important component of a vehicle. Without an operating clutch, the automobile will not be able to change gears. Fortunately, a person doesn’t have to be a master mechanic to find out if they have clutch problems.

Lifespan

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When a person hears about the need for Clutch Replacement in Arizona, they might wonder just how long a clutch is supposed to last. Something that clutches are designed to last 100,000 miles or more, but there are a lot of factors that affect the lifespan of a clutch. If a driver does a lot of stop-and-go driving, their clutch isn’t probably going to last that long. Driving habits and maintenance have a lot to do with how long a clutch actually lasts.

Warning Signs

Drivers have to watch for some signs that a clutch gives when it’s going bad. If a car has an engine that revs up but doesn’t really accelerate, that can be a sign of a bad clutch. Whenever there is a hard time switching between gears, a bad clutch could be responsible. Gear problems will generally point to some type of issue with the vehicle’s transmission. Service should not be put off. Visit Shiftrighttransmissions.com for more information.

Other Warnings

Acceleration problems and difficulties switching gears aren’t the only issues that failing clutches can give drivers. A person might notice a problem when they press down on the clutch pedal. It might feel spongy, stick in a position, or even feel loose. In some cases, clutches will make strange sounds when they are pushed down. Drivers shouldn’t wait to have any strange sounds checked out.

Car owners have a lot of things that they need to pay attention to. Maintenance is an important aspect of owning a car. From time to time, problems might pop up that are unexpected. It’s vital to take care of car problems as soon as they are noticed so that they don’t get more expensive to fix.

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Jul
16

U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images">
U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The English National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London has threatened on Friday to sue a U.S. citizen, Derrick Coetzee. The legal letter followed claims that he had breached the Gallery’s copyright in several thousand photographs of works of art uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository.

In a letter from their solicitors sent to Coetzee via electronic mail, the NPG asserted that it holds copyright in the photographs under U.K. law, and demanded that Coetzee provide various undertakings and remove all of the images from the site (referred to in the letter as “the Wikipedia website”).

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of free-to-use media, run by a community of volunteers from around the world, and is a sister project to Wikinews and the encyclopedia Wikipedia. Coetzee, who contributes to the Commons using the account “Dcoetzee”, had uploaded images that are free for public use under United States law, where he and the website are based. However copyright is claimed to exist in the country where the gallery is situated.

The complaint by the NPG is that under UK law, its copyright in the photographs of its portraits is being violated. While the gallery has complained to the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, this is the first direct threat of legal action made against an actual uploader of images. In addition to the allegation that Coetzee had violated the NPG’s copyright, they also allege that Coetzee had, by uploading thousands of images in bulk, infringed the NPG’s database right, breached a contract with the NPG; and circumvented a copyright protection mechanism on the NPG’s web site.

The copyright protection mechanism referred to is Zoomify, a product of Zoomify, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California. NPG’s solicitors stated in their letter that “Our client used the Zoomify technology to protect our client’s copyright in the high resolution images.”. Zoomify Inc. states in the Zoomify support documentation that its product is intended to make copying of images “more difficult” by breaking the image into smaller pieces and disabling the option within many web browsers to click and save images, but that they “provide Zoomify as a viewing solution and not an image security system”.

In particular, Zoomify’s website comments that while “many customers — famous museums for example” use Zoomify, in their experience a “general consensus” seems to exist that most museums are concerned with making the images in their galleries accessible to the public, rather than preventing the public from accessing them or making copies; they observe that a desire to prevent high resolution images being distributed would also imply prohibiting the sale of any posters or production of high quality printed material that could be scanned and placed online.

Other actions in the past have come directly from the NPG, rather than via solicitors. For example, several edits have been made directly to the English-language Wikipedia from the IP address 217.207.85.50, one of sixteen such IP addresses assigned to computers at the NPG by its ISP, Easynet.

In the period from August 2005 to July 2006 an individual within the NPG using that IP address acted to remove the use of several Wikimedia Commons pictures from articles in Wikipedia, including removing an image of the Chandos portrait, which the NPG has had in its possession since 1856, from Wikipedia’s biographical article on William Shakespeare.

Other actions included adding notices to the pages for images, and to the text of several articles using those images, such as the following edit to Wikipedia’s article on Catherine of Braganza and to its page for the Wikipedia Commons image of Branwell Brontë‘s portrait of his sisters:

“THIS IMAGE IS BEING USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER.”
“This image is copyright material and must not be reproduced in any way without permission of the copyright holder. Under current UK copyright law, there is copyright in skilfully executed photographs of ex-copyright works, such as this painting of Catherine de Braganza.
The original painting belongs to the National Portrait Gallery, London. For copies, and permission to reproduce the image, please contact the Gallery at picturelibrary@npg.org.uk or via our website at www.npg.org.uk”

Other, later, edits, made on the day that NPG’s solicitors contacted Coetzee and drawn to the NPG’s attention by Wikinews, are currently the subject of an internal investigation within the NPG.

Coetzee published the contents of the letter on Saturday July 11, the letter itself being dated the previous day. It had been sent electronically to an email address associated with his Wikimedia Commons user account. The NPG’s solicitors had mailed the letter from an account in the name “Amisquitta”. This account was blocked shortly after by a user with access to the user blocking tool, citing a long standing Wikipedia policy that the making of legal threats and creation of a hostile environment is generally inconsistent with editing access and is an inappropriate means of resolving user disputes.

The policy, initially created on Commons’ sister website in June 2004, is also intended to protect all parties involved in a legal dispute, by ensuring that their legal communications go through proper channels, and not through a wiki that is open to editing by other members of the public. It was originally formulated primarily to address legal action for libel. In October 2004 it was noted that there was “no consensus” whether legal threats related to copyright infringement would be covered but by the end of 2006 the policy had reached a consensus that such threats (as opposed to polite complaints) were not compatible with editing access while a legal matter was unresolved. Commons’ own website states that “[accounts] used primarily to create a hostile environment for another user may be blocked”.

In a further response, Gregory Maxwell, a volunteer administrator on Wikimedia Commons, made a formal request to the editorial community that Coetzee’s access to administrator tools on Commons should be revoked due to the prevailing circumstances. Maxwell noted that Coetzee “[did] not have the technically ability to permanently delete images”, but stated that Coetzee’s potential legal situation created a conflict of interest.

Sixteen minutes after Maxwell’s request, Coetzee’s “administrator” privileges were removed by a user in response to the request. Coetzee retains “administrator” privileges on the English-language Wikipedia, since none of the images exist on Wikipedia’s own website and therefore no conflict of interest exists on that site.

Legally, the central issue upon which the case depends is that copyright laws vary between countries. Under United States case law, where both the website and Coetzee are located, a photograph of a non-copyrighted two-dimensional picture (such as a very old portrait) is not capable of being copyrighted, and it may be freely distributed and used by anyone. Under UK law that point has not yet been decided, and the Gallery’s solicitors state that such photographs could potentially be subject to copyright in that country.

One major legal point upon which a case would hinge, should the NPG proceed to court, is a question of originality. The U.K.’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines in ¶ 1(a) that copyright is a right that subsists in “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” (emphasis added). The legal concept of originality here involves the simple origination of a work from an author, and does not include the notions of novelty or innovation that is often associated with the non-legal meaning of the word.

Whether an exact photographic reproduction of a work is an original work will be a point at issue. The NPG asserts that an exact photographic reproduction of a copyrighted work in another medium constitutes an original work, and this would be the basis for its action against Coetzee. This view has some support in U.K. case law. The decision of Walter v Lane held that exact transcriptions of speeches by journalists, in shorthand on reporter’s notepads, were original works, and thus copyrightable in themselves. The opinion by Hugh Laddie, Justice Laddie, in his book The Modern Law of Copyright, points out that photographs lie on a continuum, and that photographs can be simple copies, derivative works, or original works:

“[…] it is submitted that a person who makes a photograph merely by placing a drawing or painting on the glass of a photocopying machine and pressing the button gets no copyright at all; but he might get a copyright if he employed skill and labour in assembling the thing to be photocopied, as where he made a montage.”

Various aspects of this continuum have already been explored in the courts. Justice Neuberger, in the decision at Antiquesportfolio.com v Rodney Fitch & Co. held that a photograph of a three-dimensional object would be copyrightable if some exercise of judgement of the photographer in matters of angle, lighting, film speed, and focus were involved. That exercise would create an original work. Justice Oliver similarly held, in Interlego v Tyco Industries, that “[i]t takes great skill, judgement and labour to produce a good copy by painting or to produce an enlarged photograph from a positive print, but no-one would reasonably contend that the copy, painting, or enlargement was an ‘original’ artistic work in which the copier is entitled to claim copyright. Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”.

In 2000 the Museums Copyright Group, a copyright lobbying group, commissioned a report and legal opinion on the implications of the Bridgeman case for the UK, which stated:

“Revenue raised from reproduction fees and licensing is vital to museums to support their primary educational and curatorial objectives. Museums also rely on copyright in photographs of works of art to protect their collections from inaccurate reproduction and captioning… as a matter of principle, a photograph of an artistic work can qualify for copyright protection in English law”. The report concluded by advocating that “museums must continue to lobby” to protect their interests, to prevent inferior quality images of their collections being distributed, and “not least to protect a vital source of income”.

Several people and organizations in the U.K. have been awaiting a test case that directly addresses the issue of copyrightability of exact photographic reproductions of works in other media. The commonly cited legal case Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. found that there is no originality where the aim and the result is a faithful and exact reproduction of the original work. The case was heard twice in New York, once applying UK law and once applying US law. It cited the prior UK case of Interlego v Tyco Industries (1988) in which Lord Oliver stated that “Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”

“What is important about a drawing is what is visually significant and the re-drawing of an existing drawing […] does not make it an original artistic work, however much labour and skill may have gone into the process of reproduction […]”

The Interlego judgement had itself drawn upon another UK case two years earlier, Coca-Cola Go’s Applications, in which the House of Lords drew attention to the “undesirability” of plaintiffs seeking to expand intellectual property law beyond the purpose of its creation in order to create an “undeserving monopoly”. It commented on this, that “To accord an independent artistic copyright to every such reproduction would be to enable the period of artistic copyright in what is, essentially, the same work to be extended indefinitely… ”

The Bridgeman case concluded that whether under UK or US law, such reproductions of copyright-expired material were not capable of being copyrighted.

The unsuccessful plaintiff, Bridgeman Art Library, stated in 2006 in written evidence to the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that it was “looking for a similar test case in the U.K. or Europe to fight which would strengthen our position”.

The National Portrait Gallery is a non-departmental public body based in London England and sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Founded in 1856, it houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. The gallery contains more than 11,000 portraits and 7,000 light-sensitive works in its Primary Collection, 320,000 in the Reference Collection, over 200,000 pictures and negatives in the Photographs Collection and a library of around 35,000 books and manuscripts. (More on the National Portrait Gallery here)

The gallery’s solicitors are Farrer & Co LLP, of London. Farrer’s clients have notably included the British Royal Family, in a case related to extracts from letters sent by Diana, Princess of Wales which were published in a book by ex-butler Paul Burrell. (In that case, the claim was deemed unlikely to succeed, as the extracts were not likely to be in breach of copyright law.)

Farrer & Co have close ties with industry interest groups related to copyright law. Peter Wienand, Head of Intellectual Property at Farrer & Co., is a member of the Executive body of the Museums Copyright Group, which is chaired by Tom Morgan, Head of Rights and Reproductions at the National Portrait Gallery. The Museums Copyright Group acts as a lobbying organization for “the interests and activities of museums and galleries in the area of [intellectual property rights]”, which reacted strongly against the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case.

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of images, media, and other material free for use by anyone in the world. It is operated by a community of 21,000 active volunteers, with specialist rights such as deletion and blocking restricted to around 270 experienced users in the community (known as “administrators”) who are trusted by the community to use them to enact the wishes and policies of the community. Commons is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable body whose mission is to make available free knowledge and historic and other material which is legally distributable under US law. (More on Commons here)

The legal threat also sparked discussions of moral issues and issues of public policy in several Internet discussion fora, including Slashdot, over the weekend. One major public policy issue relates to how the public domain should be preserved.

Some of the public policy debate over the weekend has echoed earlier opinions presented by Kenneth Hamma, the executive director for Digital Policy at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Writing in D-Lib Magazine in November 2005, Hamma observed:

“Art museums and many other collecting institutions in this country hold a trove of public-domain works of art. These are works whose age precludes continued protection under copyright law. The works are the result of and evidence for human creativity over thousands of years, an activity museums celebrate by their very existence. For reasons that seem too frequently unexamined, many museums erect barriers that contribute to keeping quality images of public domain works out of the hands of the general public, of educators, and of the general milieu of creativity. In restricting access, art museums effectively take a stand against the creativity they otherwise celebrate. This conflict arises as a result of the widely accepted practice of asserting rights in the images that the museums make of the public domain works of art in their collections.”

He also stated:

“This resistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important part of their core business is the acquisition and management of rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all the more inappropriate when measured against a museum’s mission — a responsibility to provide public access. Their charitable, financial, and tax-exempt status demands such. The assertion of rights in public domain works of art — images that at their best closely replicate the values of the original work — differs in almost every way from the rights managed by the recording industry. Because museums and other similar collecting institutions are part of the private nonprofit sector, the obligation to treat assets as held in public trust should replace the for-profit goal. To do otherwise, undermines the very nature of what such institutions were created to do.”

Hamma observed in 2005 that “[w]hile examples of museums chasing down digital image miscreants are rare to non-existent, the expectation that museums might do so has had a stultifying effect on the development of digital image libraries for teaching and research.”

The NPG, which has been taking action with respect to these images since at least 2005, is a public body. It was established by Act of Parliament, the current Act being the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. In that Act, the NPG Board of Trustees is charged with maintaining “a collection of portraits of the most eminent persons in British history, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art”. It also has the tasks of “secur[ing] that the portraits are exhibited to the public” and “generally promot[ing] the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British persons and British history through portraiture both by means of the Board’s collection and by such other means as they consider appropriate”.

Several commentators have questioned how the NPG’s statutory goals align with its threat of legal action. Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt, asked “The people who run the Gallery should be ashamed of themselves. They ought to go back and read their own mission statement[. …] How, exactly, does suing someone for getting those portraits more attention achieve that goal?” (external link Masnick’s). L. Sutherland of Bigmouthmedia asked “As the paintings of the NPG technically belong to the nation, does that mean that they should also belong to anyone that has access to a computer?”

Other public policy debates that have been sparked have included the applicability of U.K. courts, and U.K. law, to the actions of a U.S. citizen, residing in the U.S., uploading files to servers hosted in the U.S.. Two major schools of thought have emerged. Both see the issue as encroachment of one legal system upon another. But they differ as to which system is encroaching. One view is that the free culture movement is attempting to impose the values and laws of the U.S. legal system, including its case law such as Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., upon the rest of the world. Another view is that a U.K. institution is attempting to control, through legal action, the actions of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

David Gerard, former Press Officer for Wikimedia UK, the U.K. chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has been involved with the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest to create free content photographs of exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, stated on Slashdot that “The NPG actually acknowledges in their letter that the poster’s actions were entirely legal in America, and that they’re making a threat just because they think they can. The Wikimedia community and the WMF are absolutely on the side of these public domain images remaining in the public domain. The NPG will be getting radioactive publicity from this. Imagine the NPG being known to American tourists as somewhere that sues Americans just because it thinks it can.”

Benjamin Crowell, a physics teacher at Fullerton College in California, stated that he had received a letter from the Copyright Officer at the NPG in 2004, with respect to the picture of the portrait of Isaac Newton used in his physics textbooks, that he publishes in the U.S. under a free content copyright licence, to which he had replied with a pointer to Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp..

The Wikimedia Foundation takes a similar stance. Erik Möller, the Deputy Director of the US-based Wikimedia Foundation wrote in 2008 that “we’ve consistently held that faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works which are nothing more than reproductions should be considered public domain for licensing purposes”.

Contacted over the weekend, the NPG issued a statement to Wikinews:

“The National Portrait Gallery is very strongly committed to giving access to its Collection. In the past five years the Gallery has spent around £1 million digitising its Collection to make it widely available for study and enjoyment. We have so far made available on our website more than 60,000 digital images, which have attracted millions of users, and we believe this extensive programme is of great public benefit.
“The Gallery supports Wikipedia in its aim of making knowledge widely available and we would be happy for the site to use our low-resolution images, sufficient for most forms of public access, subject to safeguards. However, in March 2009 over 3000 high-resolution files were appropriated from the National Portrait Gallery website and published on Wikipedia without permission.
“The Gallery is very concerned that potential loss of licensing income from the high-resolution files threatens its ability to reinvest in its digitisation programme and so make further images available. It is one of the Gallery’s primary purposes to make as much of the Collection available as possible for the public to view.
“Digitisation involves huge costs including research, cataloguing, conservation and highly-skilled photography. Images then need to be made available on the Gallery website as part of a structured and authoritative database. To date, Wikipedia has not responded to our requests to discuss the issue and so the National Portrait Gallery has been obliged to issue a lawyer’s letter. The Gallery remains willing to enter into a dialogue with Wikipedia.

In fact, Matthew Bailey, the Gallery’s (then) Assistant Picture Library Manager, had already once been in a similar dialogue. Ryan Kaldari, an amateur photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, who also volunteers at the Wikimedia Commons, states that he was in correspondence with Bailey in October 2006. In that correspondence, according to Kaldari, he and Bailey failed to conclude any arrangement.

Jay Walsh, the Head of Communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Commons, called the gallery’s actions “unfortunate” in the Foundation’s statement, issued on Tuesday July 14:

“The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. To that end, we have very productive working relationships with a number of galleries, archives, museums and libraries around the world, who join with us to make their educational materials available to the public.
“The Wikimedia Foundation does not control user behavior, nor have we reviewed every action taken by that user. Nonetheless, it is our general understanding that the user in question has behaved in accordance with our mission, with the general goal of making public domain materials available via our Wikimedia Commons project, and in accordance with applicable law.”

The Foundation added in its statement that as far as it was aware, the NPG had not attempted “constructive dialogue”, and that the volunteer community was presently discussing the matter independently.

In part, the lack of past agreement may have been because of a misunderstanding by the National Portrait Gallery of Commons and Wikipedia’s free content mandate; and of the differences between Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia Commons, and the individual volunteer workers who participate on the various projects supported by the Foundation.

Like Coetzee, Ryan Kaldari is a volunteer worker who does not represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons. (Such representation is impossible. Both Wikipedia and the Commons are endeavours supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, and not organizations in themselves.) Nor, again like Coetzee, does he represent the Wikimedia Foundation.

Kaldari states that he explained the free content mandate to Bailey. Bailey had, according to copies of his messages provided by Kaldari, offered content to Wikipedia (naming as an example the photograph of John Opie‘s 1797 portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose copyright term has since expired) but on condition that it not be free content, but would be subject to restrictions on its distribution that would have made it impossible to use by any of the many organizations that make use of Wikipedia articles and the Commons repository, in the way that their site-wide “usable by anyone” licences ensures.

The proposed restrictions would have also made it impossible to host the images on Wikimedia Commons. The image of the National Portrait Gallery in this article, above, is one such free content image; it was provided and uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence, and is thus able to be used and republished not only on Wikipedia but also on Wikinews, on other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as by anyone in the world, subject to the terms of the GFDL, a license that guarantees attribution is provided to the creators of the image.

As Commons has grown, many other organizations have come to different arrangements with volunteers who work at the Wikimedia Commons and at Wikipedia. For example, in February 2009, fifteen international museums including the Brooklyn Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum established a month-long competition where users were invited to visit in small teams and take high quality photographs of their non-copyright paintings and other exhibits, for upload to Wikimedia Commons and similar websites (with restrictions as to equipment, required in order to conserve the exhibits), as part of the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest.

Approached for comment by Wikinews, Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said “It’s pretty clear that these images themselves should be in the public domain. There is a clear public interest in making sure paintings and other works are usable by anyone once their term of copyright expires. This is what US courts have recognised, whatever the situation in UK law.”

The Digital Britain report, issued by the U.K.’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport in June 2009, stated that “Public cultural institutions like Tate, the Royal Opera House, the RSC, the Film Council and many other museums, libraries, archives and galleries around the country now reach a wider public online.” Culture minster Ben Bradshaw was also approached by Wikinews for comment on the public policy issues surrounding the on-line availability of works in the public domain held in galleries, re-raised by the NPG’s threat of legal action, but had not responded by publication time.

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Jul
16

Stabbing at Massachusetts high school leaves one dead">
Stabbing at Massachusetts high school leaves one dead

Friday, January 19, 2007

In the United States, a stabbing at the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury, Massachusetts has left a 15-year old student dead.

The stabbing happened around 7:20 am EST, before classes had started. A fight broke out in a boys’ bathroom between the 15-year old victim, James Alenson and 16-year-old suspect John Odgren, the fight spilled out in the hallway, where the stabbing occurred.

The school was sent into a “lockdown” and students were ushered into the gym, cafeteria and various classrooms. Alenson was rushed to Emerson Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8:15 am EST. Odgren admitted to the stabbing and was in the principal’s office saying “I did it, I did it,” to police. However, Odgren also reportedly said “Is he OK? I don’t want him to die,” according to a police report.All students were released at 10:20 am EST.

Odgren was diagnosed with severe Asperger’s syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder has been on medication for years, was a special education student at the school and had no history of violence according to his lawyer, Jonathan Shapiro. He is being charged with “murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and carrying a knife onto school property” and was arraigned in Framingham District Court where he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Shapiro also asked if his client could go to secure facility at Children’s Hospital in Boston. Judge Paul Healy denied the request saying he did not have “enough assurance that Children’s Hospital would be secure.” Instead, he will be held at Middlesex Jail in Cambridge outside of the general population.

According to the school’s website, there will be a community meeting tonight in the school’s auditorium at 7pm EST.

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Jul
16

American athlete Marion Jones tests positive for EPO">
American athlete Marion Jones tests positive for EPO

Sunday, August 20, 2006

 Correction — January 23, 2006 Cyclist Floyd Landis failed a drugs test for the hormone testesterone, not adrenaline as reported in the article. 

Track Star Marion Jones, winner of 3 gold medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has tested positive for the performance enhancing drug, EPO. The hormone helps create extra red blood cells which allows the user’s body to absorb extra oxygen.

Jones was expected to compete in yesterday’s Golden League meet in Zurich, Switzerland, but left early in the morning for “personal reasons.” It was announced earlier today (UTC) that she had tested positive for EPO. Jones faces a two year ban if her B test sample comes back positive.

Jones has a history of association with steroid users and dealers. In 1999, her then husband CJ Hunter tested positive for a similar drug, Nandralone. He had to withdraw from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and received a two year ban.

Jones later divorced him, and in 2002 started a relationship with another track star, Tim Montgomery, who were both coached by Trevor Grahm.

Montgomery set a record in the 100 meter sprint of 9.78 seconds at a race in Paris that year. He was banned for two years and stripped of his record due to evidence in the Federal BALCO investigation. In the BALCO investigation, several witnesses stated that Marion Jones was taking banned substances received from BALCO.

Jones’ coach, Grahm, has been involved with 10 other athletes that tested positive and were ultimately banned for the use of illegal substances. Justin Gatlin, also coached by Grahm, also tested positive for artificial Testosterone, but has not been banned or stripped of his record.

Another American athlete, cyclist Floyd Landis tested positive for excessive levels of adrenaline after winning the Tour-de-France, which may lead to him being the first winner in the tournament’s history to be stripped of the title.

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Jul
16

Teaching Intelligent Design: Incumbent Dover PA school board fails reelection">
Teaching Intelligent Design: Incumbent Dover PA school board fails reelection

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

The Dover, Pennsylvania school board became the first to mandate inclusion of Intelligent Design in a public school biology curriculum. For this year’s November 8 election, Republicans fielded a pro-Intelligent Design slate of candidates including some returning candidates who had previously voted to include a statement about Intelligent Design in the biology curriculum. A mixed slate of Democrat and Republican candidates came forward as an alternative group of school board candidates, the Dover CARES coalition. They proposed to remove Intelligent Design from the biology curriculum but allow discussion of Intelligent Design in courses dealing with philosophy and comparative religion.

All eight open school board seats were won by Dover CARES coalition candidates. Two candidates who had previously voted as school board members to include intelligent design in the public school science curriculum received the fewest votes in Tuesday’s election. One of the newly elected board members is Bryan Rehm, a parent of a Dover school student. Rehm, along with ten other parents, initiated a law suit against the school board for its decision to insert Intelligent Design into the science curriculum.

In October 2004, the Dover school board decided that Intelligent Design is a scientific theory that should be mentioned in biology classes that include discussion of biological evolution as part of the course content. The board mandated that a statement should be read in those classes stating “Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life,” and “The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families.”

The school board’s statement on Intelligent Design directs students to the book Of Pandas and People as a source of information “for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.” This book is published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of “promoting and publishing textbooks presenting a Christian perspective.”

Parents of some Dover public school students filed a lawsuit against the school board, charging that including the school board’s statement on Intelligent Design was an attempt to introduce religion into the science curriculum. The book Of Pandas and People says, “Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency.” The original complaint in the law suit against the school board claimed that “Intelligent design is a non-scientific argument or assertion.”

The US District Court Judge John Jones, who heard the non-jury case, hopes to make his ruling by the end of the year. The evidence phase of the trial ended on November 4, 2005.

A local Dover newspaper, the York Daily Record, editorialized that Dover voters should take trial testimony into account during the general election when they could cast votes for school board members along with other elective offices.

Biology teachers in the Dover schools have refused to read the school board’s statement on Intelligent Design to students because the Pennsylvania state code for education states that “The professional educator may not knowingly and intentionally misrepresent subject matter.” In a letter to their administrator, the teachers stated their view that “Intelligent design is not science.” School administrators have been reading the school board’s Intelligent Design statement to students in Dover public schools.

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