Freedom of Information;
U.S. federal judge lifts ban on public access to Medicare data
A U.S. federal judge lifted a 33-year-old injunction barring public access to a confidential database of Medicare insurance claims, a decision that could lead to greater scrutiny of how physicians treat patients and charge for their services. Judge Marcia Morales Howard ruled in favor of a motion by Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, that the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida lift an injunction imposed in 1979.
Intellectual Property Issues:
Academic Authors: Guild Does Not Speak for Us
On June 11, some 133 academic authors filed an amici curiae brief in the Authors Guild v. HathiTrust case, in support of the HathiTrust. (In October 2012, The Honorable Harold Baer, Jr., held that the HathiTrust’s mass digitization is fair use, but the Guild filed an appeal in November.)
The brief distinguished their interest from that of the Guild’s members and pointed out that they are not only different, but diametrically opposed. "A ‘win’ for the Authors Guild would be a ‘loss’ for academic authors," the brief stated bluntly.
Justices rule human genes cannot be patented
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that human genes cannot be patented, a decision with both immediate benefits for some breast and ovarian cancer patients and long-lasting repercussions for biotechnology research.
Since 1984, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted more than 40,000 patents tied to genetic material. About one-fourth of the 22,000 human genes have been patented — patents that are now invalidated. That could open up competition in genetic testing for diseases ranging from Duchenne muscular dystrophy to inheritable heart arrhythmia.
The Papers of the Founding Fathers Are Now Online
What was the original intent behind the Constitution and other documents that helped shape the nation? What did the Founders of our country have to say? Those questions persist in the political debates and discussions to this day, and fortunately, we have a tremendous archive left behind by those statesmen who built the government over 200 years ago. The Founders Online is a new website at the National Archives that will allow people to search this archive of the Founding Era, and read just what the Founders wrote and discussed during the first draft of the American democracy.
It’s Not Just About US: How the NSA Threatens Human Rights Internationally
The recent news about the NSA’s overreaching mass surveillance isn’t just about us in the US: it impacts everyone who uses the Internet and the major services that are offered over it. And although not everyone is entitled to rights under the US Constitution, every person is entitled to human rights – including the right to be free from unchecked surveillance.
That was the overriding message of a joint civil society statement delivered on Monday to the United Nations Human Rights Council. That statement in turn relied on a recent landmark report (PDF) to the UN by Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue highlighting growing concern about the impact of widespread government surveillance on human rights worldwide.
Library For All Builds Ebook Platform for Developing World
Library For All has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an ebook platform that would enable the distribution of ebooks in the developing world. The organization is seeking $100,000 in pledges to roll out a pilot program at the Respire School in Gressier, Haiti this fall.
Open Wi-Fi Comes to Tunisia: Ex-Dictator’s House Turned Into "openwireless.org" Hotspot
The Open Wireless Movement has come to Tunisia! When former Tunisian dictator Ben Ali was ousted, the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) was quickly transformed from an institution of control to one of openness, reversing the oppressive censorship policies of the Ben Ali era. Similarly, the ATI’s building-once a private home of Ben Ali-is now being transformed into a space for citizens to innovate. Inside the basement of the building is #404Lab, a hackerspace that reclaims the space where censorship was once conducted.
How Timbuktu’s manuscripts were smuggled to safety
When Islamist rebels set fire to two libraries in Timbuktu earlier this year, many feared the city’s treasure trove of ancient manuscripts had been destroyed. But many of the texts had already been removed from the buildings and were at that very moment being smuggled out of the city, under the rebels’ noses.
When Islamist rebels took over Timbuktu last year, looking after the documents began to look like an impossible task. The rebels soon began destroying shrines they considered "idolatrous."
Report: "Library and Archives Canada Private Deal Would Take Millions of Documents Out of Public Domain"
Library and Archives Canada has entered a hush-hush deal with a private high-tech consortium that would hand over exclusive rights to publicly owned books and artifacts for 10 years. The plan is scheduled to be announced publicly on Friday and according to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, a gag order has been placed on everyone involved in the project until then. The plan effectively means that Canadians will have to pay twice for timely access to material they already own.
"Fix the Debt" Corporate Supporters Would Reap $173 Billion Windfall from Territorial Tax
Fifty-nine corporations behind the "Fix the Debt" campaign could reap $173 billion in immediate tax windfalls if a "territorial tax" is enacted, according to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies. The Fix the Debt campaign has lobbied extensively for a territorial tax system. The adoption of a territorial tax system, which would exempt U.S. corporations’ foreign profits from taxation, would ensure that the coalition’s members permanently avoid taxes on more than $544 billion in offshore profits.
11 Weird Books That Really Exist
Although not every author’s masterwork is cut out for The New York Times Best Seller list, there are some books that are just so downright bizarre that it’s hard to imagine anyone reading them at all. Online bookseller AbeBooks collects the best and strangest in its Weird Book Room, which is full of gems like these, including Dating for Under a Dollar: 301 Ideas, How to Land a Top-Paying Pierogi Makers Job, and Does God Ever Speak Through Cats?
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The Intersect Alert is a newsletter of the Government Relations Committee, San Francisco Bay Region Chapter, Special Libraries Association.