Links for week ending 21 January 2011

US: New higher education initiative grants $500 million for OER
A new $2 billion initiative jointly announced this week by the United States’ Departments of Labor and Education will set aside $500 million for the creation of open educational resources at community colleges. Under the program, grantees “will be required to license to the public… all work created with the support of the grant … under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License”

Strasbourg rules libel lawsuit “success fees” violate free expression
Lawyers acting for claimants in privacy and libel cases should no longer be allowed to recover a “success fee” from defendants, the European Court of Human Rights ruled this week. NGOs including Index on Censorship and English PEN intervened in the case to express serious concern that the threat of disproportionate and costly libel cases was having a chilling effect on free expression.

Brazil’s new Minister of Culture to reverse reform process?
Concern is mounting among the access to knowledge community in Brazil that the country’s new Culture Minister, Ana de Hollanda, will reverse the direction of a five-year public consultation that could have led to vital copyright reforms. Last year, Consumers International rated Brazil as having one of the most restrictive copyright regimes in the world.

More details emerge about Stuxnet cyberwarfare attack
The New York Times report claims that a secret Israeli nuclear facility was used to test the Stuxnet worm. Stuxnet, a computer virus that targets industrial systems, was detected in 2010 and was speculated to have the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility as its ultimate target: “the operations [in Israel], as well as related efforts in the United States, are among the newest and strongest clues suggesting that the virus was designed as an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian [nuclear] program.”

EU law not tough enough for online piracy, says Brussels
In a report evaluating the success of the EU’s 2004 Directive on Intellectual Property Rights, the European Commission have concluded that current laws are not strong enough to combat online copyright infringement, and that new powers to compel internet service providers to enforce copyright more proactively should now be considered.

Quelle Twitter revolution en Tunisie?
This French-language piece published by the collective Tunisian blog uses data to examine the significance of Twitter in the revolution in Tunisia, and posits four theories on the role Twitter played in events there.

Middle East: A Closer Look at Tunisia’s Uprising
This Global Voices round up of reactions to the Tunisian revolution from bloggers in the Middle East gives a broad overview of challenges yet to come.

OECD report: Reducing Systemic Cybersecurity Risk
This clear-headed report produced by Ian Brown and Peter Sommer for the OECD concludes that “very few single cyber-related events have the capacity to cause a global shock”. Nevertheless “Governments… need to make detailed preparations to withstand and recover from a wide range of unwanted cyber events, both accidental and deliberate”.

What future does Facebook have?
This blog post by economist J. Bradford DeLong highlights a recent feature in the Financial Times magazine, showing how Facebook’s approach to helping people find the information they want on the web contrasts with that of Google and Wikipedia, and may ultimately lead to a narrowing of the information to which we are routinely exposed online.

Slavoj Žižek: Good manners in the age of WikiLeaks
In this essay for the London Review of Books, Slavoj Žižek deconstructs WikiLeaks’ true challenge to power, via Batman, Robin, and the Joker: “We shouldn’t forget that power comprises not only institutions and their rules, but also legitimate (‘normal’) ways of challenging it (an independent press, NGOs etc).”

Books: “Net Neutrality: Towards a Co-regulatory solution” by Christopher T. Marsden
Despite its rather dry title, this 2010 book remains one of the best out there to address the contentious debate surrounding regulating access to networks in the US and Europe. It is published by Bloomsbury Academic, an experimental commercial publishing venture run by former Information Program sub-Board member Frances Pinter that makes all of its titles available for free download under a Creative Commons licence.

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