Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gikii 2.0 brief impressions

Last year I wrote a detailed report on Gikii "The Beginning", but this year I’ve arrived late to UCL (where Gikii Returns took place last Wednesday organized by Lilian and Andres, with the logistic organization of Ian) and after several presentations due to be taking some exams. I arrived just after the third section when the discussion was focused, again, onto whether regulation or self-regulation are the way forward to protect people’s privacy online. I have made my position clear more than once that regulation is needed not only to protect people’s human rights and consumers’ rights but to create business-friendly environment, but I agree with the final conclusion that both regulation and self-regulation are not conducive to more privacy without a substantive effort in education.
After a nicely prepared lunch, the fourth session was started by Daithi Mac Sithigh, from Trinity College Dublin, and his “I’m in ur tube blocking ur internets: The Politics, Perception and Parody of Network Neutrality Legislation”, a very entertaining presentation about issues surrounding the discussion whether Internet Service Providers and network infrastructure providers can prioritize traffic according to it commercial interest. He was followed by Burkhard Shafer, who presented the paper co-authored by him, Wiebke Abel and Gerald Schaefer entitled “An Officer and a Gentleman: Teaching Autonomous Agents the Laws of Armed Warfare”. There they presented the idea that autonomous agents and humans receiving or giving orders to them should have a clear relation of hierarchy, like in the military, which would prevent inconsistencies and would improve predictability, one of the aims of regulation in general. The session ended with Thomas Otter's “Web 2.0 and Accessibility”. This is a topic in which I have a particular interest and Thomas treated it with his usual knowledge and aplomb. The issue is whether accessing to information is a right and the definition of information, because if it is a right and a YouTube video is information, the whole technology would not be accessible. The session was followed by the one on extreme IP.
This IP part was initiated by Caroline Wilson, from the University of Southampton, who gave a talk on “Trade mark Law in an online future – coming to its senses?” and first went onto a prospective analysis of the development of virtual worlds. The really good and illuminating analysis showed how virtual worlds are evolving into a technology that will modify the way we do things beyond what Internet had done and how that evolution will put a strain in the strange interpretation given to trademark law to the point of needing to be made in a more coherent manner. Jordan Hatcher made a very interesting presentation on copyright over tattoos with the title “Drawing in Permanent Ink: A Look at Copyright Law and Tattoos”. Jordan’s talk dealt with the interesting issue of who owns the result of a tattoo parlour’s work: the customer who owns the skin and order the tattoo? The artist who designed it? The employee that puts the ink into the skin? All of them? He was followed by yours truly, and I made a presentation called “Killing Trolls In Avatars: Virtual Infringement of Real Patents”, where the issue of whether the patent peace clause of Second Life’s terms of service protected those infringing business methods patents within the virtual world and in case that infringement bee found what it the potential liability of the platform owner’s was.
In the last session Richard Jones, from Liverpool John Moores University talked about folk music and its relation with copyright in his “Cultural approbation of the Folk: Hang Down Your Head Tom Dula, or Larry Lessig rides into town”. There he explained why copyright was not an appropriate tool to protect and promote folk music and how and why Creative Commons may not be the answer either. Richard was followed by Ray Corrigan, from the Open University, who gave a very interesting talk “Colmcille and the Battle of the Book: Technology, Law and Access to Knowledge in 6th Century Ireland”. It showed that there is really nothing new under the sun by showing that a 6th century case looked very similar to what happens now and that the issues have not changed much (although it is true that now the legal battles do not end in real battles costing 3,000 lives, but the abuses of IP may well leave far more death now…). The last presentation of the day was given by Simon Deane-Johns, from Zopa, claiming that “We, the Lunatics, Control the Asylum”. Simon explanation dealt with how networks were allowing users, or organized users, to impact the political and policy process, which he related to the rise of Web 2.0.
A final discussion took place and then the souls went on to get a picture with Jeremy Bentham and to the pub bearing his name…

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