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Description of Activities

for IRS Form 1023, Part IV

$LastChangedDate: 2008-08-17 20:54:47 +0000 (Sun, 17 Aug 2008) $

"Using an attachment, describe your past, present, and planned activities in a narrative. If you believe that you have already provided some of this information in response to other parts of this application, you may summarize that information here and refer to the specific parts of the application for supporting details. You may also attach representative copies of newsletters, brochures, or similar documents for supporting details to this narrative. Remember that if this application is approved, it will be open for public inspection. Therefore, your narrative description of activities should be thorough and accurate. Refer to the instructions for information that must be included in your description."


Today, the Internet offers methods of collaboration, attribution, distribution and production that were impossible under the technological limitations of earlier times. The success of the free software / open source movement (see attachments A and B) is an example of what can happen when these new methods are allowed to flourish. However, current public perceptions of copyright are a barrier to the rise of open source methods in areas outside software.'s mission is to help to remove this barrier, by disseminating information about copyright's effects on both the public and on artists (see attachments C, D, and E), and by offering artists and other information producers practical alternatives to copyright restrictions (see attachments F, G, and H). will conduct its activities primarily in the United States. However, its representatives may engage in public speaking, educational exchanges, and research collaborations outside the United States.


Copyright reform is now undergoing a renaissance, driven partly by the growth of the Internet and partly by the reaction of the copyright industry to that growth, a reaction which has resulted in unprecedentedly strong copyright restrictions being enforced by both technical and legislative means (see attachment I and J). In response, various organizations (e.g., Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, et al) have taken the approach of attempting to restore "balance" to the debate, arguing that there is a natural tension between the needs of information creators and the needs of the public, that copyright should seek to find the best balance between these competing needs, and that the problem is mainly that current policies have swung too far against the needs of the public.

While valuable, these efforts leave significant issues unaddressed and useful options unexplored. The reform efforts are greatly hampered by certain widespread public beliefs (as shown in attachment K): attempts to fill this gap by disseminating information about the historical origins and present-day effects of copyright; by exploring — through research, analysis, and advocacy — the possibilities of a world in which people are free to share information with one another; and by demonstrating concretely how the Internet demands new ways of understanding of the dynamics of information distribution. Our goal is to give artists and the public tools for questioning the fundamental assumption that copyright is necessary (or even helpful) for creative production, and to offer a framework for analyzing both copyright and other systems of distribution in terms of their appropriateness for particular technological circumstances. Copyright is frequently debated as a moral issue rather than a policy issue; returns it the realm of policy, so that it may be compared impartially with other possible systems, without interference from prejudicial assumptions about the relationship between copyright and creativity.

Specific Activities

The activities and allocations below are approximate, and may change over time as needed to fulfill our mission:

Research, Analysis, and Publication (50%):'s most important activity is the gathering of data about modes of distribution and creativity, and making that data available in useable form to the right audiences. For example, in projects such as our Ghost Works Survey (see attachment M) we intend to gather data from artists and present it back to both artists and the public, to demonstrate patterns that individual observers may not be able see.

Policy Advocacy (15%): is not a lobbying group and does not attempt to influence legislators. Instead, our strategy is to inform the public. To that end, we put out policy proposals not with the expectation that they will become law, but so they can dislodge prejudices and give people other perspectives. One effect of considering a copyright reform proposal is that, whether one agrees with the proposal or not, one becomes more likely to see copyright as susceptible to reform at all, because thinking about the pros and cons of a particular proposal requires, first, that copyright be in the realm of policy rather than rights. See attachment N for an example.

Educational Presentations (15%): sends representatives to speak at conferences and other events (see attachments O and P), and arranges presentations by outside speakers (see attachment Q). This estimate includes both time spent physically attending the events and time spent preparing.

Current Events Commentary (10%):

Certain external events require prompt responses, e.g., an article that results in a letter to the editor, a prominent news item or web post that needs a quick reaction, etc. This has happened frequently enough (see attachments R and S) that we can estimate roughly how much time it will occupy overall.

Technical and Administrative Overhead (5%):

Web site maintenance, finances, legal matters, and other organizational concerns.

Fundraising (5%):

This includes raising funds from the general public and from granting organizations.