May 2012 Bulletin
Welcome to the newsletter issue of May 2012! In the current issue, we bring to you updates of our latest research, event reports, videos, and media coverage:
Access to Knowledge
The Access to Knowledge programme addresses the harms caused to consumers, developing countries, human rights, and creativity/innovation from excessive regimes of copyright, patents, and other such monopolistic rights over knowledge:
Copyright Amendment Bill
- Analysis of the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012
There are some welcome provisions in the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012, and some worrisome provisions. Pranesh Prakash examines five positive changes, four negative ones, and notes the several missed opportunities. The larger concern, though, is that many important issues have not been addressed by these amendments, and how copyright policy is made without evidence and often out of touch with contemporary realities of the digital era. The analysis was reposted in infojustice.org on May 25, 2012.
Op-ed in Indian Express
- Copyright Madness (Lawrence Liang and Achal Prabhala, Indian Express, May 22, 2012): India’s Copyright Act allows owners of content the right to prevent infringement through the use of injunctions, but these injunctions have to be narrowly construed and applied only to specific instances of infringement. This is to say, take down the infringing video, not the whole website, and don’t intimidate the host. When injunctions threaten freedom of speech and expression, then free speech should necessarily trump copyright claims — and the courts cannot be used as convenient shopping forums for maladies that don’t exist.
Call for Participation
- 2012 Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest: Call for Participation and Save the Date (FGV Law School, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, December 15 – 17, 2012): We invite applications to attend the Congress, including proposals to chair workshops or deliver a paper or presentation related to the Congress’s theme.
- The International Copyright System and Access to Education: Challenges, New Access Models and Prospects for New Principles (Max Planck Institute, Munich, Germany, May 14 and 15, 2012). The event was organised by the University of Minnesota and Max Planck Institute. Pranesh Prakash participated in the event.
News & Media
- Will the Copyright Law Help the Starving Artist?:(by Margherita Stancati, Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2012): "The singers and producers of...unlicensed versions could be jailed under the current India Copyright Act, which allows even non-commercial copyright infringers to be put behind bars."
Pranesh Prakash quoted in the Wall Street Journal.
- Did Sibal just get arm-twisted by book publishers? (FirstPost, May 25, 2012): Pranesh Prakash’s article on parallel importation of books is referred in this article.
India has an estimated 70 million disabled persons who are unable to read printed materials due to some form of physical, sensory, cognitive or other disability. The disabled need accessible content, devices and interfaces facilitated via copyright law and electronic accessibility policies:
- Copyright Amendments – Empowering the Print Disabled by Rahul Cherian.
- An FAQ on the Copyright Amendment Bill, 2012, for the Benefit of Persons with Disabilities by Dr. Sam Taraporevala and Rahul Cherian.
The 'Openness' programme critically examines alternatives to existing regimes of intellectual property rights, and transparency and accountability. Under this programme, we study Open Government Data, Open Access to Scholarly Literature, Open Access to Law, Open Content, Open Standards, and Free/Libre/Open Source Software:
Article in the Indian Express
- Cancel the Subscription (Prof. Subbiah Arunachalam, Indian Express, May 8, 2012): It has been a slow but steady move to make scholarship freely available... In India, though, there appears to be very little enthusiasm among the leaders of the science establishment. Neither the office of the principal scientific adviser nor the department of science and technology seems to have shown any interest in mandating open access to taxpayer-funded research. The National Knowledge Commission has recommended mandating open access to all publicly funded research, but it is not clear who will implement the recommendation. Right now, it is left to individuals to promote open access in India.
- Design!PubliC — Third Conclave in New Delhi (National Museum, New Delhi, April 20, 2012): The event was organized by the Center for Knowledge Societies in collaboration with IBM, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and the Centre for Internet and Society. Sunil Abraham was a panelist and spoke in the session on Participation, Collaboration and Innovation.
The Internet Governance programme conducts research around the various social, technical, and political underpinnings of global and national Internet governance, and includes online privacy, freedom of speech, and Internet governance mechanisms and processes:
Google Policy Fellowship
- Google Policy Fellowship Programme: Call for Applications: CIS is inviting applications for the Google Policy Fellowship programme. Google is providing a USD 7,500 stipend to the India Fellow, who will be selected by August 15, 2012. The focus areas for the present fellowship programme include Access to Knowledge, Openness in India, Freedom of Expression, Privacy, and Telecom. The duration of the fellowship will be for about ten weeks starting from August 2012 upto October 2012. CIS will select the India Fellow. Send in your applications for the position by June 27, 2012.
- Internet at Liberty 2012: Promoting Progress and Freedom (Newseum, Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest Washington, D.C., May 23 – 24, 2012): Sunil Abraham was a speaker in Plenary IV, Debate 3: In a world where nearly nine out of ten Internet users are not American, what is the responsibility of United States institutions in promoting internet freedom?
- Meeting on Internet Governance (Conference Hall No. 4009, Dept. of Electronics & Information Technology, CGO Complex, New Delhi, May 9, 2012): Pranesh Prakash participated in this meeting.
Op-ed in Down to Earth
- Beyond Sharing: Towards our Digital Futures (Nishant Shah, Down to Earth, May 31, 2012): The battle is not about file sharing and a petty film producer wanting to rake in the box office earnings. It is about the law’s incapacity to deal with post-analogue practices and processes.
Columns by Nishant Shah
- Open letter to Kolaveri Di makers: How Dare You! (Nishant Shah, FirstPost, May 22, 2012): When it comes to piracy, you are sure to have an opinion. You might either make a virtue out of it, talking about cultural commons and collaborative conditions of production. Or you might vilify it as the social fault-line that is destroying the very pillars of commerce and cultural negotiations.
- The Private Eye (Nishant Shah, Indian Express, May 14, 2012): As we move towards a data-driven future, we need to be more aware of the different kinds of data sets that we are making public and educate ourselves about the risks of this disclosure, without being carried away by the sway of meme-like behaviour and viral trends online.
- Do IT Rules 2011 indirectly leads to Censorship of Internet: Pranesh Prakash along with Dr. Arvind Gupta, National Convener, BJP IT Cell and Ms. Mishi Choudhary, Executive Director, SFLC participated in a panel discussion on censorship of the Internet on May 8, 2012. The discussion was broadcast on Yuva iTV and featured on YouTube.
- Letter for Civil Society Involvement in ITU’s WCIT (by Center for Democracy and Technology): Academics and civil society groups wrote to the ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun Touré regarding the lack of opportunity for civil society participation in the World Conference on International Telecommunications process.
- Open letter to Hillary Clinton on Internet freedom (by Sunil Abraham): This blog entry is based on a presentation made in the Internet at Liberty conference in Washington DC on May 24, 2012.
- Why this blocking di? (by R Krishna, Daily News & Analysis, May 27, 2012): “Unlike the Calcutta High Court order in March this year, which specified the 104 websites that should be blocked, a John Doe order doesn’t mention any specific website. In some cases, the websites are being blocked without any evidence (of copyright infringement). Courts need to be informed of what people with John Doe orders are doing. We need to be specific about what can be blocked and what can’t be.”
Pranesh Prakash quoted in Daily News & Analysis
- Rajeev Chandrasekhar Urges PM To Withdraw India’s Proposal For UN Committee On Internet-Policy (by Anupam Saxena, Medianama, May 16, 2012): An interview that Medianama had with Pranesh Prakash is cited in this blog post.
- MPs oppose curbs on internet; Sibal promises discussions (Times of India, May 18, 2012): “The IT minister has promised to hold consultations but the ideal way to do so would have been to scrap the rules and start from scratch... It's not only about language in these rules. There is a problem with provisions like the one that empowers intermediaries to remove content without notifying the user who had uploaded the content or giving users a chance to explain themselves.”
Pranesh Prakash quoted in the Times of India.
- Kapil Sibal & Co shoot down motion to kill IT Rules: cite terrorism, drugs (by Prachi Shrivastava, Legally India, May 18, 2012): “Government is not censoring. It has created a system by which anyone can censor with impunity.”
Pranesh Prakash quoted in Legally India.
- Vimeo Ban: More Web Censorship (by Preetika Rana, Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2012): “Shutting websites merely on the basis of suspicion amounts to private crackdown on free speech of the web...Why didn’t the telecom ministry repeal or object to the move, knowing that the court didn’t spell out the websites to be blocked?”
Pranesh Prakash quoted in Wall Street Journal.
- Taming the Web, are we? (by Javed Anwer, Economic Times, May 13, 2012): "During the revolutions in Arab countries last year, protesters mobilized themselves through Twitter and Facebook. Then there are Wikileaks and Anonymous. This has made governments and politicians jittery."
Sunil Abraham quoted in the Economic Times.
- Cordon tightens: Rajya Sabha nod to harsh IT rules (Anil Sharma and Aishhwariya Subramanian, Daily News & Analysis, May 18, 2012): "The trouble with Indian government's proposal to address issues such as network neutrality, privacy and freedom of expression, is top-down. Unlike other countries where internet policies have always been developed with consultation with other stakeholders, here the government imposes its will."
Sunil Abraham quoted in Daily News & Analysis.
"It is an ironical situation where India is not following domestically what it is proposing internationally." Pranesh Prakash quoted in the same article in Daily News & Analysis.
- Empires: Individuals in Search of Society (Marc Lafia, Huffington Post, May 18, 2012).
- Cyber Appellate Tribunal in Bengaluru (Deccan Herald, May 9, 2012): “The state IT secretary has passed more than 80 orders. They include both cases of phishing and orders against cyber cafes for not adhering to rules under the IT Act. The Adjudicator has held that ‘section 43 of IT Act is not applicable to a body or Corporate’, after the amended IT Act came into force in 2008.” Pranesh Prakash quoted in the Deccan Herald.
Digital Natives with a Cause? is a research inquiry that looks at the changing landscape of social change and political participation and the role that young people play through digital and Internet technologies, in emerging information societies. Consolidating knowledge from Asia, Africa and Latin America, it builds a global network of knowledge partners who critically engage with discourse on youth, technology and social change, and look at alternative practices and ideas in the Global South:
Columns by Nishant Shah
- Digitally Analogue (Nishant Shah, Indian Express, May 27, 2012): While those of us who were not born digital natives — we still remember what an audio cassette looks like and the smell of screen printing — will negotiate with the form of our access to cultural objects, it is also time to realise that being non-digital is no longer an option.
- We Are All Cyborgs (Nishant Shah, Indian Express, April 29, 2012): The cyborg reminds us that who we are as human beings is very closely linked with the technologies we use.
- Resisting Revolutions: Questioning the Radical Potential of Citizen Action (Nishant Shah, Development, Volume 55, Issue 2, May 2012): In this peer reviewed journal article, Nishant Shah looks into the radical claims and potentials of citizen action that have emerged in the last few years. He seeks to show how citizen action is not necessarily a radical form of politics and that we need to make a distinction between Resistances and Revolutions. It locates resistance as an endemic condition of governmentality within a State–Citizen–Market relationship and shows how it often strengthens the status quo rather than radically undermining it. He examines a campaign against corruption in India to see how the dissonance between the claims of the future and the practices of the present is produced in citizen action.
While the potential for growth and returns exist for telecommunications in India, a range of issues need to be addressed. One aspect is more extensive rural coverage and the other is a countrywide access to broadband which is low. Both require effective and efficient use of networks and resources, including spectrum:
- Building Knowledge and Capacity around Telecommunication Policy in India: Ford Foundation has given a grant of $200,000 to CIS to build expertise in the area of telecommunications in India over a period of two years. The project involves creating a repository comprising information about telecommunications related issues and policies and online course materials designed for a multi-stakeholder audience, organising interactive public lectures and workshops around the country to disseminate information on telecom issues and using traditional and new forms of media to disseminate information to academia, civil society, policy makers and the general public.
Column in Business Standard
- The Coming Telecom Monopoly (Shyam Ponappa, Business Standard, May 3, 2012): “The 2G judgment and Trai spectrum pricing recommendations have led to a policy that makes sense for only one survivor.”
- 3rd IJLT-CIS Lecture Series at NLSIU, Bangalore (National Law School of India University, Bangalore, May 27, 2012): Organised by CIS in association with the Indian Journal of Law and Technology. Professor Rohan Samarajiva delivered a lecture on Tariff Regulation in South Asia.
- The Awesome Contracts Project (Geekup @ CIS, May 18, 2012): CIS co-organised the event with Has Geek. Vivek Durai, co-founder at Awesome Contracts gave a public lecture. Amith Narayan participated through Skype.
CIS was registered as a society in Bangalore in 2008. As an independent, non-profit research organisation, it runs different policy research programmes such as Accessibility, Access to Knowledge, Openness, Internet Governance, and Telecom. Over the last four years our policy research programmes have resulted in outputs such as the e-Accessibility Policy Handbook for Persons with Disabilities with ITU and G3ict, and Digital Alternatives with a Cause?, Thinkathon Position Papers and the Digital Natives with a Cause? Report with Hivos. With foreign governments we worked on National Enterprise Architecture and Government Interoperability Framework for Govt. of Iraq; Open Standards Policy for Govt. of Moldova; Free and Open Software Centre of Excellence project plan for Saudi Arabia; eGovernance Strategy Document for Govt. of Tajikistan. With the Government of India we have done policy research for Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, etc., on WIPO Treaties, Copyright Bill, Interoperability Framework in eGovernance, Privacy Bill, NIA Bill, National Policy on Electronics and IT Act.
CIS is an accredited NGO at WIPO and has given policy briefs to delegations from various countries, our Programme Manager, Nirmita Narasimhan won the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from the Government of India and also received the NIVH Excellence Award.
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CIS is grateful to Kusuma Trust which was founded by Anurag Dikshit and Soma Pujari, philanthropists of Indian origin, for its core funding and support for most of its projects.