C-Level View :: August 23, 2006

Worth Noting

Software Freedom Law Center to Advise Sakai Community

After the recent revelation of Blackboard Inc.’s patent action against course management system competitor Desire2Learn Inc., the Sakai Foundation has sought advice from the SFLC.

A Sakai press release issued August 17 explains, “The recent announcement by Blackboard that it is attempting to assert patent rights over simple and long-standing online technologies as applied to the area of course management systems and e-learning technologies, and its subsequent litigation against a smaller commercial competitor constitutes a threat to the effective and open development of software for higher education and the values underlying such open activities.”

The SFLC is a nonprofit organization that provides legal services, according to its mission statement, to “protect and advance Free and Open Source Software.” Among its directors are Eben Moglen, professor of Law and Legal History at Columbia University Law School and general counsel of the Free Software Foundation; and Lawrence Lessig, professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of that school’s Center for Internet and Society.

Sakai’s press release indicates that the Sakai Foundation is concerned not only about current issues with the Blackboard patent actions, but also about the broader implications of patents that could limit innovation and sharing in the education community. The release encourages support for SFLC efforts that “challenge bad patents in the area of educational and research software.”

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Internet2 Marks 5th Anniversary of Sponsored Education Program

The Sponsored Education Group Participant (SEGP) program, initiated in the summer of 2001, has promoted the use of advanced networks in the K-20 community by providing Internet2 access to 36 US state education networks to date.

SEGP was conceived with support and feedback from The Quilt, the Internet2 Network Planning and Policy Advisory Council, and the Internet2 community, along with generous sponsorships by Internet2 university members. And SEGP has worked within the Internet2 K-20 Initiative to create world-class virtual classrooms and laboratories. Projects have included education experiences ranging from remote experiments with advanced electron microscopes, to high-end video conferences offering master classes with renowned musicians, to high-definition video streaming of a total solar eclipse.

“We are proud of the success of the SEGP program and the Internet2 K-20 Initiative which today has grown to connect more than 46,000 US K-12 schools, community colleges, libraries, performing arts centers, and museums to the Internet2 network,” commented Douglas Van Houweling, Internet2 president and CEO. “Internet2 is committed to supporting and enhancing the SEGP program as it continues to gain momentum. In bringing together innovators at all levels of research and academia, the program has encouraged the development and use of new technologies to advance our country’s educational resources and capabilities.”

Connectivity with the NEPTUNE ocean research and education program at the University of Washington is one of the next projects, offering real-time data and images of the ocean and sea floor off the Pacific Northwest coast.

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