MacArthur has announced a new initiative designed to help protect the long-term availability and accessibility of information to the public in the digital era. This new initiative will fund projects that contribute to a balance between the needs of creators and the public in intellectual property laws, regulations, and practices. It will support new models to help protect the long-term public availability and accessibility of information and ideas in the digital arena. "The Internet and other electronic tools make possible the easy, inexpensive, and rapid exchange and dissemination of information," said Jonathan F. Fanton, President of MacArthur. "But while there is the promise of greater access to information, the potential exists that the amount and quality of information available for free and uncontrolled use will actually decrease. The speed and accessibility of the Internet means information and ideas shared in cyberspace can be readily subject to monitoring and their distribution more easily controlled. In this rapidly growing field, we need to ensure that there is a broader and more thoughtful public discussion informed by policy analysis and scholarly research."
To advance the Foundation's goals in this new initiative, three grants totaling nearly $2.5 million have been made.
The Creative Commons Corporation received a grant of $1.2 million over three years to help develop a new type of license for intellectual property in a digital environment and to build an intellectual property conservancy to protect for public use works of special value. The Creative Commons Corporation was founded by cyber law, intellectual property, and computer science scholars to foster innovation in the arts and commerce by encouraging the sharing of intellectual property. Its initial goal is to provide an easy method to enable creators to make their works available for use and sharing.
The American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy was awarded a grant of $630,000 over three years to look at the implications of digital copyright on libraries and their patrons. The funding will be used to expand the ALA's policy analysis, increase its participation in policy formation both domestically and internationally, and help educate key groups, namely librarians, about copyright issues in the digital age. The Office for Information Technology Policy is the technology policy think tank of the American Library Association.
Public Knowledge, a public interest organization that focuses on issues of intellectual property and protection of the public domain, received a grant of $500,000 over two years to support its policy work in the field and to fund a research project that looks at the basis for copyright protection.
The Forum on Technology and Information, a project of the Council on Competitiveness that works to educate Congressional staff about technology and economic policy issues, received a grant of $100,000 over two years to help organize Congressional briefings on intellectual property issues.