Into the Digital Blue Yonder

At the confluence of my blogging and professional interests:

One: The Federal Communications Commission came to Pittsburgh last week to hear testimony on the future of the Internet (well, officially, "Broadband and the Digital Future") at CMU. I was invited to go but couldn't make it -- something about riding a large airplane that day, across the Atlantic Ocean. Take a look at the P-G's report, which gives you a decent flavor of what was said. The full statements are available at the FCC's site.

Why CMU? Because that university is the home of some of the world's foremost authorities on telecommunications technology and policy (top of the list: David Farber). Why Pittsburgh? Because underlying debates about broadband connectivity are debates about copyright law and policy, and local Member of Congress Mike Doyle is, I'm told, very interested in all that. And why the FCC? Not because it knows anything about copyright law and policy, but because the FCC regulates the wires and cables (and tubes! don't forget the tubes!) that constitute the Internet / on which the Internet runs / that allow all of us to connect to the Internet / you get the point. Because you don't want Verizon and Comcast running around with unchecked power to decide what you can do and say and watch online.

Two: Just over two weeks ago, an academic outfit at American University in Washington DC called the Center for Social Media released a document that's interesting and useful to anyone who creates and uses online video -- as in the stuff that you see on YouTube, among other things. It's a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video, or, in simple terms, a layperson's guide to reasonable behavior with video that is likely -- not guaranteed, but likely -- to keep both amateur and professional vidders on the right side of copyright law. Here's a link to the Code.

I'm putting up this link because (as you can see at the site) I was a member of the group that assembled this thing. (A lot of my writing as a law professor has to do with fair use in copyright law.) Pittsburgh has an emerging arts community that may well find it helpful. I hope that local artists do, anyway. Earlier, I was part of an effort by the same organization to produce a Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use for Documentary Filmmakers, and there are additional "Best Practices" statements in the works for other content communities.


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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