Meanwhile back in Government . . .

I’m doing a few presentations in the next week or so and have been hit by an avalanche of bureaucracy. I try to minimise costs for my clients and book the cheapest airfares possible (usually booking them late in the piece to preserve some flexibility). One of my government clients isn’t happy with this – and wants to book the tickets. They’ll be fully flexible fares and so cost more but the bureaucratic routines dominate. I’ve pointed out that the talk they want me to give is on innovation in government as an encouragement to do something different this time. We’ll see how we go. [Update: This has been fixed and I’ll be billing after the event. NG]

I’ve also been asked to speak at another annual conference. There was a time when an annual conference was not usually ‘themed’, so it could present a general survey of what people of interest in the field were up to. But that is long gone in today’s managerial world in which relevance is guaranteed with high level theming’. So I was invited to a conference on

  • delivering customer-centred services
  • innovation for good governance and public sector integrity
  • the tough task of improving social inclusion.

The letter went on. “In light of your current role as Executive Manager, Stakeholder Engagement and Communications at the Australian Communications and Media Authority, we are hoping you would be available to contribute to a plenary panel that will explore ‘delivering customer-centred services’.” This was fair enough except for the fact that I’m not the Executive Manager of Stakeholder Engagement and Communications at the ACMA. Anyway I got on the trusty phone to the organisation that sent me the invite and then got a recorded message. “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line and you will be attended to as soon as someone becomes available”. After a good wait I was informed that “owing to unusually heavy demand, it may be some time before you can be attended to.  You may wish to call back later.”  Anyway, at least if I end up at the conference I will be able to offer some practical tips on how they could have delivered a more customer-oriented service to me.

I also chaired a panel on Open Government at the Melbourne Writers Festival. The ABC is keen to cover this and so we were sent the consent forms.

Keep in mind that the Government 2.0 Taskforce recommended that the licence that should be used by government agencies and corporations is CC-BY (which is the most open licence practically available in the labyrinth that is copyright law) unless there are good reasons to adopt some other licence.

Anyway this is what we were asked to agree to.

I, the Speaker, grant to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (the ABC) the right to reproduce and edit the Speaker’s Material for the purpose of making an audio and/or visual recording (the Recording). I agree that the ABC owns all rights in all media throughout the world in the Recording. (my emphasis)

The ABC may use and authorise the use of the Recording, as it contains the Speaker’s Material, in whole or part in any manner the ABC considers appropriate, including for associated promotional purposes, in and in association with the Program. I warrant that there are no restrictions that prevent me from providing the ABC with the Speaker’s Material and agreeing to these terms, and that the consent of no other person is required to enable the ABC to make and exploit the Recording.

I release and indemnify the ABC, its assignees, and licensees from and against any claims arising from any breach of this warranty and the exercise of the rights granted herein.

I asked if we could agree to CC-BY and got a call from an EP at the ABC and we had an enjoyable chat. Do you know that the ABC’s iView and similar on demand vision from the ABC has now gone to geo-blocking by default so current affairs shows which used to receive live feedback from around the world during the program (for instance Q&A) cannot now do so. He doubts he can sell it to the behemoth’s lawyers, but asked me to send him the full text of the CC-BY licence. I’d not checked it over carefully previously but just one look at it – below the fold – shows you what a nightmare the whole thing is.

Here we are in public democratic deliberations in much the way they were undertaken in the Athenian agora (my spellchecker wants an “angora” here, but I digress) all those years ago (OK, sans togas and sans Plato, Socrates, Pedicles and like VIPs of the ancient world).  And yet this is the gobbledigook that has to be waded through just to render one’s words, deeds and vision thereof tolerably public property – or to speak more precisely how to enable one’s words as private property to circulate in a way resembling the way they’d circulate if they were public property.

(Note: lawyers advise that the existing law in Australia may not enable one to fully divest oneself of all rights to content – and so CC-BY requiring attribution for ever no matter how little of one’s work is used is the best one can do. Words fail me, but they do take me back to a strange interplanetary experience when Troppo debated the rule against hearsay and the doctrine of consideration)

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2 Responses to Meanwhile back in Government . . .

  1. KB Keynes says:

    “In light of your current role as Executive Manager, Stakeholder Engagement and Communications at the Australian Communications and Media Authority

    you couldn’t make a job title like this

  2. Paul Frijters says:

    yes, interesting. I refuse to sign these things as a matter of course and so now and then have to pull out of a media-related event when an over-zealous bureaucrat discovers I havent signed and insists I sign.
    It is getting worse though: some European research councils now demand you physically sign a whole set of agreements before you do free peer-review work for them. Whilst I dont mind ticking a box on a website saying I will keep mum, the things they want are just ridiculous. Its great in that I now have a good excuse to turn them down.

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