Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Democratizing Law Making Through Open and Collaborative Participation

I'm extremely happy to announce that after months of planning and designing, we've finally managed to execute our collaborative law-making platform, titled CLaM.

Our first proposal relates to a copyright defence for the disabled, highlighted in an earlier post by Lawrence Liang here. I also did a post over at SpicyIP on this.

This is how CLaM introduces itself on our Tikiwiki site:

"CLaM stands for Collaborative Law Making. The CLaM Initiative attempts to engineer a shift from "representative" to "direct" democracy by enhancing public participation in the framing of laws. It builds on the "collaborative" and "open" approach popularised by "open source" software and other initiatives such as Wikipedia. To this end, it seeks to build an online model of collaborative participation to help with the framing of laws/policies.

A core team would initially administer and manage this platform. Over time, it is hoped that others (any member of the public) could also run their own policy/legislative proposals on the CLaM platform. Also, the initial focus would be on intellectual property laws/policies pertinent to India, since this falls within the area of expertise of the current team administering this model. After a while, we hope to scale up the project to encompass the entire gamut of laws/policies.

The current core team proposes to identify areas in the current legal regime that require change. The proposed change is then articulated in the form of a proposal, giving as many details (including references and reading) as possible. This initial proposal is then thrown open for public participation, where any interested member of the public could either comment generally on the proposal or specifically edit it to their liking, giving reasons etc.

Our current project deals with a proposed amendment to the Indian Copyright Act intended to give visually impaired persons better access to copyrighted materials.

Amending the Copyright Act to Secure Access for the Disabled

A number of countries the world over provide for a copyright exception in favour of persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 does not do so and unduly restricts the conversion of copyrighted works into formats accessible by disabled persons. An amendment proposed in 2006 to deal with this issue has serious limitations. For a more detailed overview of the concerns of the disabled community in this regard, please read our Problem statement.

An alternative amendment is therefore proposed. To view the Problem statement and Proposed Amendment, you need not be a registered user. However, in order to actively collaborate/participate in the framing of this law, we strongly encourage you to register.

Please log in (if you are an existing user), or register (if you are a new user - it's simple and free). Once you register, you can comment on, and make direct edits to the Draft Provision. The idea behind this platform is to democratize law making by enabling as many people to participate in the making of laws that are likely to impact our society."

We really hope that you will be enthused enough to participate in this adventure that leverages the power of web 2.0 to democratize the process of law making. In particular, we look forward to your comments on how we might improve this offering. No doubt, this is just a small beginning, but one, that we hope can be scaled up to yield more concrete and lasting outcomes.
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