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Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category

A2K and Human Rights

Posted by Lea on February 10, 2010

A2K4 logoThis weekend, February 11-13, 2010, the Yale Information Society Project will host its fourth major conference on access to knowledge, A2K4: Access to Knowledge and Human Rights.

I’ve had the privilege to be involved with all four of Yale’s A2K conferences, first as an ISP student fellow, and now as the director of its access to knowledge research program.

This year’s conference, however, is particularly close to my heart. For the first time, we’re approaching access to knowledge from the perspective of a particular theme: its intersection with human rights, the focus of two of my recent articles.

For the full agenda of the conference, as well as links to blog posts, archived video, and additional resources for each panel, please visit http://yaleisp.org/2010/02/a2k4main.

Below the jump, a summary of the opening remarks I will make on Friday morning…

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Access to Science

Posted by Lea on July 6, 2009

I’m currently working on an article on the right to science and culture, which seeks to shine light on an almost-forgotten provision of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. To shed light on what framers of the 1948 document were thinking, I’m reading up on the history of access to technology in the 1930s and 40s. It’s fascinating stuff.

One of the stories I’m intrigued by is the democratization of electricity during the New Deal. All of the scientific discoveries necessary to make home lighting work were in place by the 1880s. Yet almost half a century later, very few American households had it.

Diego Rivera, "Man at the Crossroads" (1934)

Diego Rivera, "Man at the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future" (1934)

It was just too expensive. And the story of why it was expensive has everything to do with monopolies. Edison’s patents were aggressively litigated, so there was no competition in the lightbulb market. And since there was generally only one (private) utility company per city, there was no incentive to bring down costs.

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Open Video Conference

Posted by Lea on June 20, 2009

Xeni Jardin -- BoingBoing TV by Roy Blumenthal, part of the Open Video Conference series, Creative Commons licensed

"Xeni Jardin -- BoingBoing TV" from Roy Blumenthal's Open Video Conference series, Creative Commons licensed

The Open Video Conference, co-organized by the Yale ISP, has been an exciting two days.

Registration topped 800, and I have it from a reliable source that 4000 people watched remotely. My own contribution to the conference was a presentation as part of a panel entitled “Human Rights and Indigenous Video: Dilemmas, Challenges and Opportunities.

I drew on examples from the recent protests in Iran to demonstrate how Internet video can be a powerful tool for promoting human rights, and why open video is particularly important to realizing this potential.

Video footage of our workshop is now available here. My presentation runs from 2:15 to 8:50. My slides are also available at the ISP’s blog. Below, a partial transcript.

This talk focused mostly on how open video can help people defend their human rights. But I’ve also written about how open video more directly supports the right to take part in cultural life in this short thought piece.

Open Video and Human Rights, by Lea Shaver

Presentation to the Open Video Conference, New York City, 19 June 2009

The big news story this week are the mass protests in Iran, where a dissatisfied public demands accountability for what appears to be massive election fraud.

Digital technologies have played a crucial role in the popular mobilization, as user-generated media circumvents the official censorship.

Here, the BBC’s website features extensive, detailed videos recorded by ordinary Iranian citizens from their cell phones.

It used to be that big media institutions made the news, and then the bloggers commented on it. Now those roles have been reversed.

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