Why do intellectual property issues matter to civil society? Because they affect the public’s access to knowledge in the public domain and to copyrighted work, and infiltrated into the domain of food and medicine, threatening the sustainability of indigenous knowledge and biodiversity. What can be done to protect the global commons, and culture and life forms in the public domain that are the heritage of humankind? What can civil society do locally to ensure that IP legislation responds to social and cultural needs rather to the needs of international capital? These questions are looked at in the latest edition of “Chakula”, the APC Africa ICT policy newsletter.
What happens when wireless, Free Software and the internet reaches the Amazon? APC’s member in Brazil, RITS, gives an update of their project in Pará, a territory covered mostly by jungle, and the Amazon Rainforest.
Free software offers various ‘freedoms’. But in India, enthusiasts are working on a new one — the freedom to build bridges to potential partners from half-way across the globe, and facing similar developmental concerns or challenges.
APC members in Cairo, ArabDev (http://www.arabdev.org) is taking Free and Open Source Software to the disadvantaged south of Egypt. Students ask "who and how" made the software programmes. When shown a long list of names, they ask, "All these?" Thinking of programmers as normal people, not masters of some secret magical lore, could make a differnce to the thinking of these citizens of tomorrow.
Developers tell us about their favourite ActionApps-based site and the benefits for them of using APC's free software
*Oliver Zielke of Web Networks, Canada on AttavikApps, a derivation of ActionApps which allows the Inuit to publish online in their own language. *Jaime Torres of Peru on SIA an agrarian system for Peruvian farmers developed by CEPES in Lima *Sarah Escandor-Tomas on the “Voting Campaign for the Presidential Elections Centre for Migrant Advocacy” developed by WomensHub, Philippines. * And more! Audio interviews now ready to listen to.
In late January, India’s technology mecca Bangalore became the venue for an international ‘camp’ intended to promote free and open source software (FOSS) among civil society. Asia Source, as the ‘tech camp’ is called, was held from January 28 to February 4, 2005 and "hopes to bring together over a hundred people from 20 countries to increase the use and awareness of FOSS amongst the non-profit sector in South and South East Asia."
The World Social Forum has open information systems in place to go with an open political ethos. All of about 1,000 computers at the forum are using free software. The official website has been developed for the first time in ‘php,’ an open source language. A new translation system is also a free software tool. The Forum is hosted in Brazil, a nation whose government at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society held in Geneva in 2003, strongly opposed intellectual property on software, and succeeded in getting this omitted from the final resolution.
For an sector that talks of alternatives, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or voluntary sector stays surprisingly aloof from one significant alternative that has really worked — free software. But there are stirrings to bridge this huge chasm. In end-January, India’s technology mecca Bangalore is to be the venue for an international, APC-supported ‘camp’ meant to promote FLOSS among the NGO sector.
Progressive technology organisations all over the world met in Cape Town to discuss the future of the free content management system – ActionApps. ActionApps is a software that makes websites easier to manage and more dynamic and facilitates the creation of portal sites, improving the visibility of civil society information. Almost 40 developers from as far afield as Egypt, Cambodia, Spain, Peru and the Philippines debated future plans, sustainability, documentation needs and a new online campaigning action kit for activists which will come to life in 2005.
The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), together with key free and open source software (FOSS) advocates in the country organized a training-workshop for Philippine non-government organizations (NGOs). Held on 28-29 October 2004 and attended by 30 participants from 18 organizations, the learning activity sought to impart not only with the necessary skills and knowledge of FOSS but more importantly, to provide the trainees with the confidence in using FOSS-based applications.