Coalition urges Obama to adopt open transition

A group including MoveOn.org, Tim O'Reilly, and Newt Gingrich's American Solutions is asking President-elect Barack Obama's transition team to free up content from Change.gov.

Stephanie Condon Staff writer, CBSNews.com
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.
Stephanie Condon
2 min read

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team anticipated the requests of open government advocates by copyrighting Change.gov under a Creative Commons license, but a coalition of groups in favor of more online freedom is asking for more.

The group released an open letter Tuesday morning to the Obama team, urging them to adopt certain principles on Change.gov so that no one is blocked in sharing or remixing transition-created material. The signatories include Web 2.0 evangelist Tim O'Reilly, Stanford Law professor Larry Lessig, MoveOn.org, Newt Gingrich's organization American Solutions, and the government transparency group the Sunlight Foundation. Visitors to the site hosting the letter can add their name to the petition endorsing its principles.

The letter encourages eliminating legal barriers to sharing material from Change.gov. The transition team achieved this by copyrighting the site under the Creative Commons license, the letter says.

"The transition's commitment to this principle is enormously important, and its attention to this matter--so quickly, and in midst of so many pressing issues--deserves praise," it says.

It also asks that there be no technological barriers for sharing content. For instance, it says, the transition team should not exclusively use YouTube to post videos, since YouTube does not authorize videos on its site to be downloaded.

The letter also says transition-produced content should not unfairly benefit one commercial entity over another or commercial entities over noncommercial entities.

"Ultimately, to ensure that new media can cover breaking news on a level playing field with traditional media, it would be advisable to carry press conferences and other live media events in real time on the Web site," the letter says.

The group is aiming to encourage the Obama team to adopt open Internet principles not only during the transition, but as it starts governing as well.