Rami Olwan

All About CyberLaw, Copyright and Developing Countries

Report: Digitally Open: Innovation and Open Access Forum, 23 Oct 2010, Doha, Qatar

Although I arrived in early morning of Saturday, 23 October 2010, I managed to attend Digitally Open: Innovation and Open Access Forum, held at Sharq Village, Doha Qatar. Here is below a summary of the event.

The welcoming speech was given by Dr. Hessa Al Jaber, secretary General of the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, ictQATAR.  Al Jaber spoke about the importance of open digital environments for the region, and outlined specific initiatives that ictQATAR is leading to embrace it (establishment of incubation center, drafting policies that encourage open source in government and arabizing content). She noted that “The Arab world has a strong and important voice that must be heard. Embracing a digitally open world will put us at the forefront of innovation and help propel us towards being a knowledge based economy.” .

Michelle Baker,  Chairperson of Mozilla Foundation provided her insights of openness. She described elegantly openness as “a state of mind” and is about spreading innovation. To Baker, if you want to be effective on the internet, you need to have “scale”. Openness is important for “scale”. Creative Commons is a framework of how to work with a copyright system and share ideas. Mozilla intends to build a layer of the internet designed for individuals to make civil and social value. According to Baker, there are many degrees of “openness” and it up to the users contributing to open projects and the companies to choose between the various levels. She argues that openness does not mean “free” and believe that in certain areas this might hold some truth, but the matter is far from being settled.

Joi Ito, CEO, Creative Commons gave an interesting presentation entitled “Innovation and Digital Content Rights”. He described from his own experience while working for Japanese IT companies how innovation was perceived pre the internet era and afterward. He also compared between the traditional style of IT innovation (governments, large companies, experts) and the new style of innovation with the arrival of the internet (users contributing to open source and open content projects). To joi, the internet is made of various layers and stacks. Creative Commons is the next stack. It basically lowers the costs and creates an explosion in knowledge and innovation. He gave examples of organizations that are using Creative Commons including Wikipedia, Aljazeera, and Governments in New Zealand and Australia.

Chris Dibona, Open Source Programs Manager, Google, spoke about open source. He outlined the motivations behind releasing code by developers. He described how Google practices open source projects such as “Chromium”. One audience member asked Dibona about Google’s attention in the region in relation to open source. He replied that Google needs to learn more about the region and the culture of the Middle East.

Professor Michael Nelson,  a visiting professor of Internet Studies, Georgetown University spoke about “open clouds”. He emphasised that we are living in new world where small countries can make big impact in technology world. Estonia is the most “wired” country in Europe. Skype changed the way we do business. Qatar can provide the seed for the magic cloud. This can be achieved by having the right policies in the right time.

The second panel entitled “Openness in Science and Technology” was moderated by John Wilbanks,  Vice President for Science, Creative Commons. He gave introductory remarks to the use of CC in science.

Shaikah Al- Jaber, Director of Marketing, Innovation and Alliance, Qtel International gave a presentation entitled “Open Innovation for Telecom Companies in the Middle East”. She mainly spoke about innovation in the telecommunication sector and how it can be achieved.

Hesham Al Komy, Head of Sales and Marketing, Middle East and Africa, Redhat, gave a presentation entitled “From Linux to Beyond”. He went through the history and development of “open source”. Redhat was the first cooperation to take “open source” into the commercial arena.  It was founded in 1983 and it currently employs 3500 employees with offices in 29 countries. He also discussed other issues related to open source community and open source adoption.

Habib Hadid,  the founder of Yalla Startup and Yamili.com did not give a presentation, but instead spoke spontaneously about business and how innovation and openness can help it. He recommended at the end to consider “innovation as a human right”.

Lucio Rispo, a strategic research director for the Qatar Science and Technology Park,  spoke about the internet technological revolution and how it is changing the world. He described several initiatives that were taken in Doha, Qatar including IQRA to spread technology and innovation.

The third panel was about “Openness in Government” that was moderated by Professor Michael Nelson. Sunil Abraham, executive Director for the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, India provided interesting remarks about the internet and openness from the perspective of developing countries especially India. He also mentioned the importance of putting government funded research under open transparent and open models.

Paul Keller, Senior Project Lead of Technology and the Public Domain, Knowledgeland, Netherlands, discussed the ways to promote openness in the public sector through the use of Creative Commons licensing model. To view his presentation click here.   Marwan Marouf Mahmod, Executive Director of ICT Industry Development, ictQATAR spoke about his experience and the initiatives that they have taken in ictQatar.

The final panel was entitled “Culture, Creativity and Openness”. There were 3 speakers in this panel. Eric Steuer, Creative Commons Director and the moderator of the session gave an introduction to CC. He described how CC is being used in Education, music, museums, design, films and journalism.

Addulrahman Al Qataba is a web and application developer from Qatar. He presented his philosophy on “open life”. He developed several projects that serve the open source community in mobile applications.

Arend Kuster, Managing Director of Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation (BQF) outlined the initiative that Bloomsbury Publishing is taking in Qatar to spread knowledge through printed books and journals published in Arabic and English.

Roger Mandle, spoke about museums and his experience as a director of the Qatar Museum Authority.

CC Arab World Second Meeting

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sharq Village

12:30 p.m – 9:00 p.m.

The CC Arab world was attended by lawyers from Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and also users and enthusiasts supporting CC from across the region. The meeting was divided into two sessions. The first was for all attendees and the second was divided into two groups one for users and another for lawyers.

The first session started with a welcoming note by Joi Ito, who stressed the importance of reaching consensus decisions on important matters related to CC in the Arab world. He noted the difficulties associated with organising such an event and the efforts that CC has invested to bring all people together. Donna thanked the organizers and the supporters of the event particularly ictQATAR. She also set out the agenda for the meeting. Diane spoke about the Affiliate Enhancement Program and Michelle gave details on drafting road maps for each jurisdiction. Speakers from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and the UAE presented their road maps to CC.

After discussion and questioning, Diane gave an introduction to CC naming policy in other jurisdictions including Spanish speaking countries. The discussion of CC naming policy started with me writing in Arabic suggested terms for English CC licences. There were two views in relation to the translation of the English terms to Arabic. The first view came from lawyers who want to use legal words that might not sound appealing to Arabic users of the licences. The second view came from users who want to use words that might not be legal and enforceable in courts. After discussion that lasted three hours, a decision was reached on each term. It was agreed to either to use المشاع الإبداعي (creative Commons) or use the English version alone. Attribution: نسب المصنَف; ShareAlike: الترخيص بالمثل, NoDerivatives: منع الاشتقاق; NonCommercial: غير تجاري.

I attended the second meeting of the session for lawyers. Diane and Joi were present at this session. Diane spoke then allowed each of the jurisdiction leads to speak. Hala Essalmawi from CC Egypt spoke about the A2K project in the library of Alexandria, Egypt and how it was important to start the project there.

I spoke also about the importance for CC in governments and education. Pierre El Khoury and Mohammed AL Darwish spoke about their upcoming events that will feature Lawrence Lessig as a speaker to the Lebanese Bar Association. Mohammad from CC Lebanon also spoke about his involvement in the Consumers International  and the reports that he produced for A2K in Lebanon.

Omar Al Taweel presented his views to CC of how CC should proceed in Jordan. Several questions were asked by the lawyers and Diane gave answers. The meeting ended as some of the attendees had to leave for the airport.

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