Toward a 21st century government

President-elect Obama has championed the creation of a more open, transparent, and participatory government. To that end, Change.gov adopted a new copyright policy this weekend. In an effort to create a vibrant and open public conversation about the Obama-Biden Transition Project, all website content now falls under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License:

“Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Obama-Biden Transition project. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Change.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.”

Copyright Professor and blogger James Grimmelmann explains what this means:

“Talk about doing the right thing. Now the collaborative power of Change.gov isn’t limited by what the transition team itself is able to enable. Anyone can take the policy points and discussions from the site and create their own remix or branch of it. This is a very good sign of the transition team’s attitude towards their task. It’s also a good license choice. Attribution 3.0 is the Barack Obama of CC licenses: modern, dignified, generous, and tolerant.”

Professor Lawrence Lessig also commented on his blog, noting the complexity of working through such issues: “This is great news about a subject that's harder than it seems.”

Change.gov has incorporated additional features designed to make the Transition more accessible and its content more open and re-useable. For every video posted – from the weekly addresses, to press conferences, to speeches, to “Inside the Transition” pieces – there are links to high-resolution QuickTime video files beneath embedded videos (these are also available via the Transition’s podcast), so that the video can be saved to a computer and edited at will. The Obama-Biden Transition Team is continuing to explore ways to use new media to create a more transparent Transition. This is part of an ongoing planning process to create a 21st century government that is more transparent, participatory, and effective.

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