Obama continues Google-enabled gov't push on transition site

Change.gov embraces looser copyright licensing policy and creates citizen forum

Like his campaign apparatus, President Elect Barack Obama's transition team is embracing what some have called a Google-enabled government by loosening copyright licensing on its Change.gov Web site and by launching a feature that allows citizens to contribute to policy discussions.

Over the weekend, the Change.gov site changed its traditional strict copyright notice to embrace the Attribution 3.0 Unported License, the most liberal license available under the Creative Commons license framework.

The Creative Commons framework was developed by Stanford professor Larry Lessig to allow the creators and owners of content to choose how they allow their work to be used.

The updated Change.gov site allows anyone to use and "remix" its content as long as they cite that the transition project was the original source of the material, noted Nancy Scola, a blogger at TechPresident. She described the change as a "major coup" for those hoping that the Obama Administration would offer "saner and more sensible" thinking about copyright questions than past federal governments.

"What's good for the governing is good for the governed," she added. "The new liberal licensing doesn't just apply to the team working behind the scenes on the transition. Whatever bright thinking any of us submit to Change.gov ... binds us to a 'nonexclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world' for that content."

The Obama team, which relied heavily on Web 2.0 tools during the presidential campaign and announced plans last month to keep the campaign social network operating, last week also launched a discussion forum on Change.gov.

"Today we're trying out a new feature on our Web site that will allow us get instant feedback from you about our top priorities," notes the Change.gov site. "We also hope it will allow you to form communities around these issues -- with the best ideas and most interesting discussions floating to the top."

The first post, which asks citizens to list their biggest worries about the country's health care system, has already generated more than 3,500 replies. Using a tool called IntenseDebate, the site lest users rate comments and commenters.

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Heather Havenstein

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