Open letter to President Obama on copyright treaties and “national security”

I just used the Contact form on to send the following to President Obama and am reposting it here. Please reach out to the White House with your own concerns on this matter.

Dear Mr. Obama:

As a supporter, I was surprised to see that Carmen Suro-Bredie, chief FOIA officer in the White House’s Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, rejected a FOIA request for the text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement by claiming that the proposed treaty was a “properly classified national security secret.”

My concern, as copyright extensions continue to eat away at the public domain, taking value from the public, is that worldwide negotiations about the future of copyright are being held in utter secrecy without any public input–without the public even being told what’s under consideration.

For an administration that pledged transparency and a reversal of your predecessor’s policy of putting things under the seal of “national security” to avoid scrutiny, this is upsetting and unbecoming. Why is this treaty considered a “national security secret”? Surely this would be a good opportunity to practice some of the transparency we were promised.

Tim Jarrett

I’m a little more optimistic than some of the BoingBoing commenters that this can be corrected.

Remix culture: NASA’s bootleg Snoopy from 1969

I had read about NASA’s use of Snoopy and the Peanuts characters as unofficial mascots for Apollo 10 (it was well documented in Charlie Brown and Charlie Schulz, which sat on my Pop-Pop’s bookshelf alongside the Peanuts Treasury), but don’t remember seeing this. Courtesy Google Image Search and the LIFE archives:

As good an argument for the Commons as I’ve ever seen. The irony is, of course, that it sits in Google Images with no reasonable licensing in place. Even this bootleg image is claimed as copyright LIFE magazine.

Google LIFE archive: where’s the usage rights?

I’m impressed by the new LIFE photo archive at Google Images–it’s a truly significant work of digital content. But it’s missing one important thing: a usage policy. The images are marked (c) Time Inc., so it’s clear they aren’t public domain. But is there any way to purchase usage rights? The only reuse provision seems to be a framed print purchase.

Compare it to what Flickr does with the images in its commons, or anywhere else for that matter–a clear licensing agreement, selectable by the poster, that explains how images can be used. The LIFE archive may be visually striking, but it would be much more valuable if the images could have a life beyond Google’s servers.