Sponsor a TACP pooch today!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 14:58
Posted in category Events

Today we’ve launched a new and exciting fundraising campaign to help raise money for the core running costs of The African Commons Project.

We’re asking our friends to sponsor one or more of our adorable TACP doggies, who will be tackling a 5km race at the Discovery 702 Walk the Talk event on 26 July in Johannesburg.

Let’s introduce you to our canine competitors:

Have they won you over yet?

If so, click here to find out more about the campaign and how you can donate!

Our contexts, our rights. Copyright in BISA

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 2:45
Posted in category Research

As part of the Ford Foundation funded project Local Contexts, Global Commons, a trio of intrepid academics immersed themselves in the local copyright acts of their countries, to compile a copyright review that encompasses the current status of copyright in Brazil, India and South Africa. As three pivotal developing nations, it was important to see what the impact has been on areas such as education, culture, traditional knowledge, research and access to knowledge.

The report, which has been compiled by The African Commons Project in partnership with The Alternative Law Forum (ALF) in India, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) in Brazil, and UK-based charity iCommons, contextualises the respective copyright regimes by outlining the particular influences and history of copyright as experienced within each country. Of particular interest is the status of each country in terms of a copyright review process: India, having undergone a review previously, Brazil currently going through a government-led copyright review process that is inclusive of various stakeholders, and South Africa, which is yet to go through an official review, but has had an independent review led by Andrew Rens, Fellow at The Shuttleworth Foundation.

The report highlights the need for copyright reform, and also shows the controversial aspect of copyright which includes a push-pull between public interests and private rights (corporations and culture producers who fight to increase their stake in intellectual property rights.

Download the BISA Review in pdf here.

The time to sign is now…

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 16:28
Posted in category Events

The Stop! the Regulations petition is up and running – and ready for your signature.

The African Commons Project and members of the open access community in South Africa have been working together to draft a letter of protest to the Department of Science and Technology using the collaborative writing tools at MixedInk. The community was mobilised when it came to light that the Minister of Science and Technology is proposing to include a set of regulations in the Publicly Financed Research and Development Act, section 17, that will result in dire consequences for the research sector in South Africa in particular and all South Africans in general, by stifling local innovation and access to knowledge.

We would now like you to show your support for this cause by adding your signature to the growing list of people who are concerned that these Draft Regulations will put South Africa significantly behind the rest of the world when it comes to innovation in research. You can read and sign the petition Read the rest of this entry »

Join us to Stop! the Regulations

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 10:13
Posted in category Events

The Minister of Science and Technology proposes to include a set of Regulations in the Publicly Financed Research and Development Act, section 17, that will result in dire consequences for the research sector in South Africa in particular and all South Africans in general, by stifling local innovation and access to knowledge.

These Regulations must be stopped! The Dept of Science and Technology invites comment by 28 May, 2009. However, the public have been given very little time to comment fully on these Regulations so we propose an extension as well as some initial changes.

What are the Regulations about?

The Act in its entirety can be read here. But look at a reader-friendly version here.

In summary, the Regulations adopt the stance that publicly funded research should be seen as a ‘business deal’ with commercial interests and ownership as being paramount. The Regulations stipulate specific requirements that researchers need to adhere to when entering collaborative partnerships with international research consortia; and much of what they stipulate regarding ownership and commercialisation will be contrary to these international research consortia’s legal requirements. The Regulations also stipulate the creation of a State-run body that will process publicly funded research and patents, and in essence approval will need to be sought from this body for scientists when licensing the research, entering into international consortia partnerships, changing ownership (or disowning) or placing the research into the public domain.

Why should the Regulations be rejected?

The Regulations show a concerning misunderstanding of the objectives of publicly funded research by placing commercialisation as a primary driver of research.

The Regulations will restrict researchers’ freedom of expression and association by deeming it necessary for researchers to apply for permission to enter into partnership agreements with international research associations and consortia. The Act’s commercial regulatory requirements could also be in contradiction to that of international research associations or consortia, thus making it impossible to enter into such relationships.

The Regulations incorrectly define what the public domain is and how it should be interpreted.

In basic terms, the Regulations are unconstitutional, going against the freedoms that are explicitly stated in our South African constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

Interactive participation at the SA National Broadband Forum

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 14:18
Posted in category Events
A participant brainstorming the issues around intellectual property within the context of broadband.

A participant brainstorming the issues around intellectual property within the context of broadband.

The African Commons project team was invited to take part in the SA National Broadband Policy Forum hosted by the APC with partners the Shuttleworth Foundation, The Edge Institute and Sangonet.

The forum marks the launch of the broadband policy framework which was discussed and debated at the one-day workshop. Participants were required to provide input to the draft framework during the workshop and will be able to take these ideas back to their own organisations. A final policy framework will be put online to be freely accessed by stakeholders who will be able to show their support for this initiative. A longer term goal will be to lobby government with this policy framework.

The team were invited to the event wearing two hats: one, to take part as a stakeholder that will contribute to the collaborative policy framework process, and two, as a provider of event coverage in the form of videography and event reportage (blogging) for the official website, South African Connect.

This is not a conference! The aim is to foster engagement between people. – Steve Song, Shuttleworth Foundation

The programme has been facilitated by the Shuttleworth Foundation’s Steve Song using a world café methodology which is designed to turn stakeholders from passive listeners to active contributors in discussion. Speakers ranged from World Wide Worx’s Arthur Goldstuck, who provided some interesting stats about current and future trends for broadband in South Africa and Africa, Read the rest of this entry »

Revolutionising the financial sector through collaboration

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 15:42
Posted in category Research
JSE by MauritsV on flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0

JSE by MauritsV on flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0

This month’s Wired magazine has a fantastic story about how concepts that are at the core of TACP’s vision – transparency coupled with collaboration, would make for a more responsible and accountable financial sector. In this article, Daniel Roth takes a retrospective look at how the demand for transparency that came about after the global economic crisis of 1929, has in fact become extreme to the point of murkiness. He writes the “volume of data obscures more than it reveals; financial reporting has become so transparent as to be invisible.”

The article continues:

“…We need to rethink our entire philosophy of regulation. Instead of assigning oversight responsibility to a finite group of bureaucrats, we should enable every investor to act as a citizen-regulator. We should tap into the massive parallel processing power of people around the world by giving everyone the tools to track, analyze, and publicize financial machinations. The result would be a wave of decentralized innovation that can keep pace with Wall Street and allow the market to regulate itself—naturally punishing Read the rest of this entry »

The African Commons Project is blacked out

Friday, February 20, 2009 14:51
Posted in category Research, Tools

There’s a political campaign spreading across the internet, one that is ‘turning out the lights‘ on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter profile pictures, and throwing a dark shadow on blogs around the world. It’s all because of an unfair amendment to the Copyright Act in New Zealand that will threaten the rights to privacy and access to information in that country.

According to Creative Freedom Foundation, who is running this campaign, “Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act assumes Guilt Upon Accusation and forces the termination of internet connections and websites without evidence, without a fair trial, and without punishment for any false accusations of copyright infringement.”

This is an outrageous amendment, but why does this matter to us South Africans (and Africans), not quite on the other side of the world, but quite a distance away at least? It matters because Read the rest of this entry »

First iHeritage seminar on Digitisation and Access

Friday, February 13, 2009 13:50
Posted in category Events
Merle Ruff from Sabinet introduces herself and her project. Heather Ford, the iHeritage project lead, stands in the background.

Merle Ruff from Sabinet introduces herself and her project. Heather Ford, the iHeritage project lead, stands in the background.

On Tuesday, 3 February, the seminar on ‘Digitisation and Access: Tools for cultural heritage institutions’ was held at the African Commons Project offices. Representatives from South African archives and heritage institutions, government and university departments, art collectives, creators and business representatives attended the event with the hope of finding out more about digitization and the implications of making their collections available online.

Facilitated by Heather Ford and Rebecca Kahn, the seminar aimed to provide professionals working in cultural heritage spaces with more information on how to make their collections openly accessible online, useful legal and digital tools that are available, and how to get the public involved in building their collections.

Heritage goes full circle

Heather Ford kicked off the event by discussing how perceptions of heritage and access to that heritage has changed over time – from the storytellers who sat around camp fires telling and retelling histories, to the ‘cabinets of curiosity’ and museums as we know them today that tell us to “look but don’t touch” (or take photos).

Read the rest of this entry »

Sharing our heritage online with OpenSA!

Friday, January 23, 2009 10:46
Posted in category Tools

OpenSA! launches in Johannesburg today with a pilot project to make South African heritage more accessible for remixing and re-publishing by online creators. In collaboration with SA Rocks and the African Commons Project, OpenSA! is collecting, tagging and managing donations from people who are willing to make their material freely available online. OpenSA! will also be helping to coordinate outreach to South Africa’s young creators to enable them to learn more about how to find open content that they are free to remix and share.

As access to the Internet grows in South Africa, so too does the range of creative activity by a new generation of active online citizens. Internet publishing in the form of blogging and citizen journalism, online publishing of photographic, video and music publishing are all part of a wide range of democratic speech Read the rest of this entry »

Announcing the first iHeritage seminar for 2009 on digitisation and access

Friday, January 9, 2009 8:33
Posted in category Events, Tools


iHeritage and the African Commons Project are inviting all museum, archive, library and heritage fundis to a seminar on digitisation and access to South African heritage in Rosebank, Johannesburg.The first seminar in the iHeritage series this year is entitled: “Digitisation and access: Tools for cultural heritage institutions” and will take place on Tuesday 3 February 2009 from 10am – 1pm at the iCommons Offices at the Grace Hotel, 1st Floor, 54 Bath Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg (Google map link)

Why you should come:

– Meet other professionals in your field;
– Learn about the global and local best case practice in making heritage collections available online;
– Discover opportunities for collaboration and funding of online heritage initiatives. Read the rest of this entry »