FOIA: Film industry lobbies South Africa’s Parliament to suspend Copyright Amendment Bill | Knowledge Ecology International

“Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) has obtained 311 pages of correspondence between officials from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and employees of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other entities including law firms on matters regarding South Africa and copyright policy. The FOIA request was filed by Claire Cassedy on October 29, 2019. The 311 page document is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wUYHzgwtYUaYiMLLeGfV7ucxk5Q1tpu0/view?usp=sharing

The correspondence dates from December 2018 to November 2019 and reveals an assiduous campaign mounted by the MPA and RIAA to thwart the passage of South Africa’s Copyright Amendment Bill in the South African Parliament and to prevents its signing by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. The MPA and RIIA, working in concert with the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) petitioned USTR to impose higher tariffs on South Africa (by revoking the Generalized System of Preferences) over concerns with, inter alia, the fair use provisions contained in South Africa’s Copyright Amendment Bill….”

Journal subscription expenditure in the UK 2010-2019 | Zenodo

“This dataset contains payments made by UK higher education institutions for access to academic journals from ten publishers from 2010-2019. The data was obtained by sending Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to institutions through the website What Do They Know. The requests, and all original source data, can be found at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/stuart_lawson/requests.

The total expenditure with these ten publishers from 2010-2019 was over £982 million. This includes some gaps in the data, so the true figure is almost certainly greater than £1 billion.

The data was originally produced in three stages:

– Data for 2010-14 was published at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1186832

– Data for 2015-16 was published at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4542433

– Data for 2017-19 was published at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3828461

These three datasets contain direct links to the original FOI requests. The present dataset is a combination of these three datasets and contains no additional data….”

Journal subscription expenditure in the UK 2017-2019 | Zenodo

“This dataset contains payments made by UK higher education institutions for access to academic journals from ten publishers from 2017-2019. The data was obtained by sending Freedom of Information requests to institutions through the website https://whatdotheyknow.com. The total expenditure with these ten publishers from 2017-2019 was over £330 million….”

 

The Neues Museum is claiming copyright over 3D-printing files of the Nefertiti bust.

“The museum never quite clarified its relation to the scans. But earlier this week, Wenman released the files he received from the museum online for anyone to download. The 3D digital version is a perfect replica of the original 3,000-year-old bust, with one exception. The Neues Museum etched a cop..yright license into the bottom of the bust itself, claiming the authority to restrict how people might use the file. The museum was trying to pretend that it owned a copyright in the scan of a 3,000-year-old sculpture created 3,000 miles away….

While the copyright status of 3D scans of public domain works is currently more complex in the EU, Article 14 of the recently passed Copyright Directive is explicitly designed to clarify that digital versions of public domain works cannot be protected by copyright. …

The most important part is that adding these restrictions runs counter to the entire mission of museums. Museums do not hold our shared cultural heritage so that they can become gatekeepers. They hold our shared cultural heritage as stewards in order to make sure we have access to our collective history. Etching scary legal words in the bottom of a work in your collection in the hopes of scaring people away from engaging with it is the opposite of that.”

Ninth Circuit: Courts Can Force Feds to Put Records Online

“In a decision that will expand the power of courts to make government agencies post information online, the Ninth Circuit this week reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the removal of animal welfare compliance data from a U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

“The decision from the Ninth Circuit is a major victory for public advocates using the Freedom of Information Act,” said Christopher Berry, senior staff attorney for plaintiff Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

ALDF and three other groups sued the USDA in 2017 after it abruptly pulled animal welfare compliance data offline, a move the plaintiffs say frustrates their missions to fight animal cruelty and monitor government enforcement.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick III dismissed the suit in August 2017, finding courts lack power to force government agencies to make documents available to the public at large, as opposed to individual requesters, under the Freedom of Information Act.

A three-judge Ninth Circuit panel overruled Orrick’s decision Thursday, finding the law authorizes courts to make agencies stop holding back records which they have a duty to make available in “virtual reading rooms” online….”

Ninth Circuit: Courts Can Force Feds to Put Records Online

“In a decision that will expand the power of courts to make government agencies post information online, the Ninth Circuit this week reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the removal of animal welfare compliance data from a U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

“The decision from the Ninth Circuit is a major victory for public advocates using the Freedom of Information Act,” said Christopher Berry, senior staff attorney for plaintiff Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

ALDF and three other groups sued the USDA in 2017 after it abruptly pulled animal welfare compliance data offline, a move the plaintiffs say frustrates their missions to fight animal cruelty and monitor government enforcement.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick III dismissed the suit in August 2017, finding courts lack power to force government agencies to make documents available to the public at large, as opposed to individual requesters, under the Freedom of Information Act.

A three-judge Ninth Circuit panel overruled Orrick’s decision Thursday, finding the law authorizes courts to make agencies stop holding back records which they have a duty to make available in “virtual reading rooms” online….”

What the Chemical Industry Didn’t Want You to Know

Tucked away in an Oregon barn for decades was a collection of internal documents, correspondence, and chemical safety studies detailing the lengths the chemical industry took to conceal the dangers of their products.  

The documents in this collection—dubbed the “Poison Papers”—allege fraudulent chemical safety testing, corporate concealment of chemical dangers, and collusion between the industry and the regulators who were supposed to be protecting the public and environment. Commonly used herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate), dicamba, atrazine, and 2,4-D feature prominently among the papers, as do nearly every large chemical corporation. 

Now, thanks to the combined efforts of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and the Bioscience Resource Project (BRP), this collection is available online for the first time….

The Poison Papers are the digitization of about three tons of files from litigation against Monsanto, litigation involving some of the Dow Chemicals products, open records requests, and Freedom of Information Act requests to the federal government as well as state agencies. It represents documents that were discovered over the past 40 years but some of the documents, including scientific studies, are older than that because they are from litigation….”

The Department Of The Interior Wants To Limit Public Records Requests : NPR

Now a new rule proposed by Interior in December appears designed to make it harder for groups like Western Values Project to get those public records. The rule would give the agency greater discretion over how it handles public records requests. For instance, the agency would require individuals or organizations to be more specific in which documents they want. It also allows a cap on the number of documents Interior processes for individuals and organizations every month.

None of which sits well with Chris Saeger, the Western Values Project’s executive director.

 

“What they are doing is a very thinly veiled effort to target critics of the Trump administration and to keep their corruption a secret,” he said.

 

Western Values is a vocal and persistent critic of the Trump administration. It has filed 152 requests with the Interior Secretary’s office since Trump took office. The agency’s embrace of industry as part of its pro-energy agenda has, in part, led to a two hundred percent increase in Freedom of Information Act requests to the secretary’s office from all kinds of groups and individuals….”

Interior Department wants to shut down public information access | Salon.com

“Ryan Zinke is out as Secretary of the Interior, but in his last days in office, he tried to suppress what we can learn about the destruction Trump is doing to our nation’s public lands.

Attorney Daniel Jorjani, who previously worked at the Koch-funded Freedom Partners, drafted a proposed rule that would slash the public’s ability to get public records from the 10 agencies in the Interior Department….

Zinke also tried to get permission to destroy some records about what animals are protected under the Endangered Species Act. A recent memo at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, part of the Interior Department, directs staffers to withhold or delay releasing some public documents about how the Endangered Species Act is carried out….”

Ryan Zinke Puts Interior Department Loyalist In Charge Of Public Records Requests

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has put political appointee Daniel Jorjani in charge of overseeing all public information requests sent to the agency. Jorjani once told Interior colleagues that their job is ultimately to protect Zinke from ethics probes and bad press….

And in a March 2017 email to colleagues, Jorjani boasted that he had “successfully protected” Interior presidential appointments facing investigations and that their main responsibility was to do the same for Zinke….

Meg Townsend, the Center for Biological Diversity’s open government attorney, accused Zinke of “politicizing” the FOIA process. 

“With a Koch crony in charge of records requests, the department will work in darkness,” she said in a statement. “Public records that might shame Zinke or big polluters will be covered up, and our public lands and wildlife will suffer.” …”

HHS Plans to Delete 20 Years of Critical Medical Guidelines Next Week | US Department of Health and Human Services

“Experts say the database of carefully curated medical guidelines is one of a kind, used constantly by medical professionals, and on July 16 will ‘go dark’ due to budget cuts.

The Trump Administration is planning to eliminate a vast trove of medical guidelines that for nearly 20 years has been a critical resource for doctors, researchers and others in the medical community. Maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the database is known as the National Guideline Clearinghouse [NGC], and it’s scheduled to “go dark,” in the words of an official there, on July 16. Medical guidelines like those compiled by AHRQ aren’t something laypeople spend much time thinking about, but experts like Valerie King, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Director of Research at the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University, said the NGC is perhaps the most important repository of evidence-based research available. “Guideline.gov was our go-to source, and there is nothing else like it in the world,” King said, referring to the URL at which the database is hosted, which the agency says receives about 200,000 visitors per month. “It is a singular resource,” King added. Medical guidelines are best thought of as cheatsheets for the medical field, compiling the latest research in an easy-to use format. When doctors want to know when they should start insulin treatments, or how best to manage an HIV patient in unstable housing — even something as mundane as when to start an older patient on a vitamin D supplement — they look for the relevant guidelines. The documents are published by a myriad of professional and other organizations, and NGC has long been considered among the most comprehensive and reliable repositories in the world. AHRQ said it’s looking for a partner that can carry on the work of NGC, but that effort hasn’t panned out yet. “AHRQ agrees that guidelines play an important role in clinical decision making, but hard decisions had to be made about how to use the resources at our disposal,” said AHRQ spokesperson Alison Hunt in an email. The operating budget for the NGC last year was $1.2 million, Hunt said, and reductions in funding forced the agency’s hand.”

National Freedom of Information Coalition

“The National Freedom of Information Coalition protects our right to open government. Our mission is to make sure state and local governments and public institutions have laws, policies and procedures to facilitate the public’s access to their records and proceedings.

NFOIC exercises advocacy, education and resolve. We are keenly aware of the challenges to access information in an increasingly digital world.

We are a nonpartisan alliance of state & regional affiliates promoting collaboration, education & advocacy for open government, transparency & freedom of information. Our members include citizen-driven nonprofit FOI organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys….”

National Freedom of Information Coalition

“The National Freedom of Information Coalition protects our right to open government. Our mission is to make sure state and local governments and public institutions have laws, policies and procedures to facilitate the public’s access to their records and proceedings.

NFOIC exercises advocacy, education and resolve. We are keenly aware of the challenges to access information in an increasingly digital world.

We are a nonpartisan alliance of state & regional affiliates promoting collaboration, education & advocacy for open government, transparency & freedom of information. Our members include citizen-driven nonprofit FOI organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys….”

Let Canada Be First to Turn an Open Access Research Policy into a Legal Right to Know | John Willinsky | Slaw

“Canada’s three federal research funding agencies – the Canadian Institutes of Health ($1 billion annual budget in 2016-17), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada ($1.1 billion), the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada ($380 million) – instituted an intellectual property law exception in 2014. It effects the publication of research and scholarship resulting from grants which they have awarded. What began with CIHR in 2008, evolved six years later into Tri-Agency Policy on Open Access Policy on Publications. Under this policy “grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication.”

I raise this policy because, what began a decade ago, has only grown in scope, in Canada and globally, suggesting open access is here to say. This seems worth considering in terms of its implications for the Canadian government’s current review and potential reform of the Copyright Act.

The first thing to note with Tri-Agency Policy is that it considerably abridges the author and publisher’s right to restrict access, limiting it to twelve months rather fifty years after the author’s death (whether the author retains the copyright or assigns it to the publisher, which is often a condition for publication in scholarly publishing). This is a radical turnaround, given that Canada, like other countries, had previously done nothing but extend the copyright term limit, from the original twenty-eight years, with a fourteen-year extension, of the first Copyright Act of 1875….”

Let Canada Be First to Turn an Open Access Research Policy into a Legal Right to Know | John Willinsky | Slaw

“Canada’s three federal research funding agencies – the Canadian Institutes of Health ($1 billion annual budget in 2016-17), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada ($1.1 billion), the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada ($380 million) – instituted an intellectual property law exception in 2014. It effects the publication of research and scholarship resulting from grants which they have awarded. What began with CIHR in 2008, evolved six years later into Tri-Agency Policy on Open Access Policy on Publications. Under this policy “grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication.”

I raise this policy because, what began a decade ago, has only grown in scope, in Canada and globally, suggesting open access is here to say. This seems worth considering in terms of its implications for the Canadian government’s current review and potential reform of the Copyright Act.

The first thing to note with Tri-Agency Policy is that it considerably abridges the author and publisher’s right to restrict access, limiting it to twelve months rather fifty years after the author’s death (whether the author retains the copyright or assigns it to the publisher, which is often a condition for publication in scholarly publishing). This is a radical turnaround, given that Canada, like other countries, had previously done nothing but extend the copyright term limit, from the original twenty-eight years, with a fourteen-year extension, of the first Copyright Act of 1875….”