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Frank Pasquale

Securitized Copyright Income Streams: The New School Bond?

The ownership of academic work has been controversial for some time. One DC-area school district wants to simplify things:

A proposal by the Prince George’s County Board of Education to copyright work created by staff and students for school could mean that a picture drawn by a first-grader, a lesson plan developed by a teacher or an app created by a teen would belong to the school system, not the individual.

The measure has some worried that by the system claiming ownership to the work of others, creativity could be stifled and there would be little incentive to come up with innovative ways to educate students. Some have questioned the legality of the proposal as it relates to students.

I expect to see more of these “InstaGrab” style ownership claims in the future, as tax revolts and billionaire-funded political movements erode public support for education. The longer-term goal will be to push debt-financing down the educational ladder, from college to high school and beyond. If instability in the debt markets makes that less feasible, another solution is to securitize future income streams–be they wages after school or rents from IP created while in school. PG County may end up pioneering a whole new chapter in the financialization of education.
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Surveillance and Resistance in a Risk Society

There seem to be three responses to mass surveillance with varying degrees of interest from the populace:

1) Notice: U. Toronto professor Andrew Clement has offered $100 for a “privacy compliant” surveillance camera:

In some cases, it can be hard to tell who is responsible for a camera, which is itself a problem, according to Clement. “We have a right to know who’s collecting our information, that’s fundamental to our privacy legislation,” he said. “If you don’t see a sign, it’s clearly not compliant with privacy laws around informed consent.”

I’d add that the consent should be meaningful and actionable. The watched deserve some clear information on how to object to what may be wayward watchers (be they stationary or drone-enabled cameras).

2) Sousveillance: Tiny lifelogging cameras now cost about $300; the price is sure to decline over time. Even audio recordings can convey a good deal of injustice meted out by the authorized “watchers.” At a 2012 Diane von Furstenburg fashion show, models wore “Google Glasses” as they walked down the runway, filming the audience that observed them. With the right interface, such glasses may make their wearers’ “laser-focused, walking encyclopedias;” or not.
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“Kicking the Tires” is not “Looking Under the Hood”

Celebrated in the tech press only a week ago, the FTC inaction (and non-explanation of its inaction) with respect to search bias concerns is already starting to curdle. The FT ran a front page headline titled “Europe Takes Tough Stance on Google.” Another story included this striking comment from the EU’s competition chief:

Almunia insists that the Federal Trade Commission decision will be “neither an obstacle [for the European Commission] nor an advantage [for Google]. You can also think, well, this European authority, the commission, has received a gift from the American authorities, given that now every result they will get will be much better than the conclusions of the FTC,” he said with playful confidence. “Google people know very well that they need to provide results and real remedies, not arguments or comparisons with what happened on the other side [of the Atlantic].”

In response to allegations of search bias, Google has essentially said, “Trust us.” And at the end of its investigation into the potential bias, the FTC has essentially said the same. One public interest group has already put in a FOIA request for communications between Google and the FTC. Consumer Watchdog has requested a staff report that was reported to have recommended more robust action. Will Google, an advocate of openness in government and the internet generally, hold firm to its professed principles and commend those requests?
Read More »“Kicking the Tires” is not “Looking Under the Hood”