Open-Government.us – Caring about Sharing

Greetings, everyone. Have you seen the new open letter from Larry Lessig, Ben Smith (Politico), Tim O’Reilly and others from Mozilla, Wikipedia, RedditMozilla, and the Sunlight Foundation regarding three principles for open government? Here’s the slide show:

And here are the three principles:

1. No Legal Barrier to Sharing (law (copyright law) should not block sharing);

2. No Technological Barrier to Sharing (code (limitations on downloads, for example) should not block sharing;

3. Free competition (no alliances should favor one commercial entity over another, or commercial over noncommercial entities).

Also, here are a couple links to learn more:


Larry Lessig’s Blog

Ben Smith’s Explanation at Politico

GovLoop seems to be one of the primary forums where these kinds of issues may be discussed…so let’s give these thought leaders our insight! What are your ideas and reactions based on your day-to-day lived experience?

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Rather than comment in my original post, I wanted to say a few things here to grease the wheels. In particular, I am interested in people’s thoughts on point #2. Here’s an excerpt from the broader definition of No Technological Barrier to Sharing:

“Content made publicly available should also be freely accessible, not blocked by technological barriers. Citizens should be able to download transition-related content in a way that makes it simple to share, excerpt, remix, or redistribute. This is an essential digital freedom….We would therefore strongly encourage the transition to assure that the material it has licensed freely be practically accessible freely as well.”

THOUGHTS: The call here is for citizens to be able to have free access to digital content…and yet many government agencies themselves restrict access for their employees. It seems that Obama’s administration is sending an early signal that they will expect more openness by government – not only in sharing content with constituents, but also allowing the public sector employees to have broader access to Internet media.

Do you welcome this openness?

Adriel Hampton

Sharing your content does not necessarily mean wading through that of others. But, I guess once the genie is out of the bottle …
If I was an investor, I would really be looking at accessibility technologies (ADA) right now.


I welcome the openness but I think people should understand that this will be gradual and a learning process. There will be mistakes. It’s not easy. No one has really done it in this environment and scale (there are some examples but it’s mainly new territory). But we should it. And I think we will.

I really believe in 4 years, the gov’t will look, feel, and interact radically different on the web.

Sarah Bourne

It took me a while to figure out that, despite it’s all inclusive sounding name, the focus of open-government.us is on Obama’s transition content. Once he’s President, then all of the material will be considered in the Public Domain under copyright law. Since a Creative Commons license has restrictions, it would be more restrictive than public domain. (Wouldn’t it?)

Maybe I just need a nap or something, but it seems like a lot of fuss over not a whole lot.

Or perhaps they are thinking not only of what is on change.gov, but other transition materials. A problematic example would be all the questionnaires filled out by thousands of people hoping to work in the new administration. Would the no-legal-barriers provision effectively remove all rights of privacy for these people? Would their names and addresses be fair game to every tele- and direct marketer in the world?

Personally, I’m a big fan of open standards and universal accessibility. The trick there is ensuring that existing policies, etc., as minimal as some of them are, are actually adhered to. I admit that I expect this administration to make this a priority.