Announcing The Copia Institute: A New Business Network & Think Tank Exploring Ideas In Abundance

from the welcome dept

I wanted to drop a note to the Techdirt community about an exciting new project that we're launching one month from today: The Copia Institute, a new network of future-focused innovators. Copia is Latin for "abundance" -- and information abundance is the hallmark of our time, and the source of many of its biggest opportunities and toughest challenges. We're working collaboratively with everyday internet users, business experts and technology policy leaders to focus on the challenges and opportunities we face in this age of abundance.

Think of it as a think tank for the information era.

While following and writing about issues related to innovation, business models and policy, we've seen up close the amazing power of innovative startups and pioneering technologies to change the world in powerful ways. It's hard to remember what things were like just a decade ago -- before Facebook, iPhones, YouTube, Twitter, Airbnb and more. Our lives have changed in profound and exciting ways -- and such change will continue to advance rapidly in the future. It's inspiring, exhilarating and wonderful. But it also presents unique challenges. Innovation can upset existing industries. It can collide with outdated regulations that were originally designed to protect us but now serve as roadblocks that slow progress and weaken the innovative spirit. And, sometimes, it creates ethical challenges and questions that deserve deeper levels of consideration.

With Copia, we'll bring together innovators, internet users, policymakers and experts with diverse and distinct perspectives to discuss these issues. But we won't just talk, we'll act. We will work to resolve the issues of today while preparing to address the issues of tomorrow. We want to help innovators tackle issues early on -- and look where we, as a group, can develop creative ways to embrace opportunities that make the world a better place while minimizing downsides or negative consequences.

We're launching Copia with an Inaugural Summit on March 12-13th at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. We'll host stimulating brainstorming sessions on disruptive innovations and policy challenges, as well as a special tech industry General Counsels' roundtable to discuss principles of innovation.

We have an ambitious agenda, so stay tuned. We will share more details as the summit approaches, but until then, I look forward to seeing some of you there!

Reader Comments

The First Word

Re: Please explain what this means

Perhaps we were a little vague, but this is just an initial announcement and we'll be bringing more details as we get a bit closer to the event. But, for now, let me try to flesh out a few things:

Copia has several concrete goals both general and specific. One obvious element is to continue and expand our role, established through Techdirt, of helping to shape the conversation about policy and business models related to innovation (such as long-standing Techdirt conversations about media businesses, patent issues, etc.). A big element of that will be expanding our research efforts — for example, Techdirt's Sky Is Rising reports have been very useful to people in the policy world pushing more sensible copyright policy, and we'd like to be producing far more research like that, in the copyright area as well as lots of others, in order to be constantly arming those people with good, solid data to back up their arguments.

So one of the things you can count on seeing from Copia is research — an event like this, where we bring together lots of experts to discuss these topics (see the website for some of the specific discussions at the Summit) is also about laying the groundwork for future research -- as we identify people with interesting ideas or knowledge or data on various topics, we'll be continuing to work with those people to produce relevant research and other publications (things like education campaigns, guidebooks, reference tools) in the weeks and months following the Summit.

But we also don't want to be limited to just research papers, nor are we solely focused on policy. One of the biggest focuses is ways to route around policy issues. Some examples of this include things like Twitter's patent licensing system (to route around the issue of future patent trolls somehow abusing defensive patents), Creative Commons (providing easy copyright opt-outs and open licensing where automatic copyright law does not really allow for such a thing), or ContentID. We want to identify ways that programs like these can be expanded, and new ideas for things like this that can be created/built, and act as promoters and project coordinators among Copia members to make that happen. For example, we'd love to see more companies adopt open licensing systems for their patents, and we'd love to see there be more CC-like options (including stronger public domain dedications) for content creators.

The General Counsel roundtable also has a very specific goal. We want to create a "statement of innovation principles" that for companies that provide services and platforms and other things, as for how they will promote/protect innovation. This includes things like how they structure their terms of service and their content policies, ideas like not abusing patents or other IP, commitment to things like data portability and open API access, and so on. This is a project that will develop over time — first the GCs from major tech companies will discuss it and start to flesh it out at the event, then we'll open it up for discussion with everyone present, then afterwards we'll be setting it up online for public comment. The end-goal is to turn it into something that companies openly, publicly adopt and agree to — and which users begin to respect, and then expect — and that it will have a real effect on how they do business.

And there is more. So, trust us: though some of these topics are big and nebulous and hard to pin down, our goals aren't the same — in fact, bringing these big-think discussions into the realm of reality, and making real plans for the immediate future, is central to what we want to do.
—Leigh Beadon

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2015 @ 10:53am

    Please explain what this means

    Mike, I love you and I love Techdirt, but...

    When this sentence

    "We'll host stimulating brainstorming sessions on disruptive innovations and policy challenges, as well as a special tech industry General Counsels' roundtable to discuss principles of innovation."

    immediately precedes this sentence

    "We have an ambitious agenda, so stay tuned."

    I can't help but be skeptical. This makes me think of Office Space: "What do ya do here?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 12 Feb 2015 @ 12:21pm

      Re: Please explain what this means

      Perhaps we were a little vague, but this is just an initial announcement and we'll be bringing more details as we get a bit closer to the event. But, for now, let me try to flesh out a few things:

      Copia has several concrete goals both general and specific. One obvious element is to continue and expand our role, established through Techdirt, of helping to shape the conversation about policy and business models related to innovation (such as long-standing Techdirt conversations about media businesses, patent issues, etc.). A big element of that will be expanding our research efforts — for example, Techdirt's Sky Is Rising reports have been very useful to people in the policy world pushing more sensible copyright policy, and we'd like to be producing far more research like that, in the copyright area as well as lots of others, in order to be constantly arming those people with good, solid data to back up their arguments.

      So one of the things you can count on seeing from Copia is research — an event like this, where we bring together lots of experts to discuss these topics (see the website for some of the specific discussions at the Summit) is also about laying the groundwork for future research -- as we identify people with interesting ideas or knowledge or data on various topics, we'll be continuing to work with those people to produce relevant research and other publications (things like education campaigns, guidebooks, reference tools) in the weeks and months following the Summit.

      But we also don't want to be limited to just research papers, nor are we solely focused on policy. One of the biggest focuses is ways to route around policy issues. Some examples of this include things like Twitter's patent licensing system (to route around the issue of future patent trolls somehow abusing defensive patents), Creative Commons (providing easy copyright opt-outs and open licensing where automatic copyright law does not really allow for such a thing), or ContentID. We want to identify ways that programs like these can be expanded, and new ideas for things like this that can be created/built, and act as promoters and project coordinators among Copia members to make that happen. For example, we'd love to see more companies adopt open licensing systems for their patents, and we'd love to see there be more CC-like options (including stronger public domain dedications) for content creators.

      The General Counsel roundtable also has a very specific goal. We want to create a "statement of innovation principles" that for companies that provide services and platforms and other things, as for how they will promote/protect innovation. This includes things like how they structure their terms of service and their content policies, ideas like not abusing patents or other IP, commitment to things like data portability and open API access, and so on. This is a project that will develop over time — first the GCs from major tech companies will discuss it and start to flesh it out at the event, then we'll open it up for discussion with everyone present, then afterwards we'll be setting it up online for public comment. The end-goal is to turn it into something that companies openly, publicly adopt and agree to — and which users begin to respect, and then expect — and that it will have a real effect on how they do business.

      And there is more. So, trust us: though some of these topics are big and nebulous and hard to pin down, our goals aren't the same — in fact, bringing these big-think discussions into the realm of reality, and making real plans for the immediate future, is central to what we want to do.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2015 @ 11:25am

    Nice use of the lingo

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2015 @ 12:11pm

    Think Tanks...

    Are nothing more than a group of people literally looking at the polls, public opinion, and the written word to best says...


    "Greetings idiots, this bill was written for the express purpose of making you grin from ear to ear while we attempt to sodomize you with it sans lube."

    The only purpose a think tank has is to attempt to beautify the language around things and work out the best angle of attack.

    We call people experts, but I have yet to meet a single expert on anything anywhere in life, myself included and I know a fair amount of thing beyond the average numbskull which sadly, is no great feat.

    The only thing humanity could be considered and expert in is pure ignorance and stupidity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 12 Feb 2015 @ 12:15pm

      Re: Think Tanks...

      Are nothing more than a group of people literally looking at the polls, public opinion, and the written word to best says...

      Not this one. We hesitated calling it a think tank for that very reason. We're not interested in doing any of the above.

      We call people experts, but I have yet to meet a single expert on anything anywhere in life, myself included and I know a fair amount of thing beyond the average numbskull which sadly, is no great feat.

      Which is why this is not about the standard ivory tower think tank concept of just putting "experts" in a room, but bringing in *LOTS* of people. In fact, in some ways it's the reverse of what you're talking about -- we want to help bring in the views of the people using the internet and use that to *influence* the so-called experts into recognizing that what they're pushing isn't right.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 12 Feb 2015 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Think Tanks...

      This is very, very not true. What you say is true for many "think tanks," but not for most of them. Of course, you rarely hear about the well-behaved ones.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jennifer, 12 Feb 2015 @ 2:27pm

    Wow, this is exciting news! :)

    I think really need someone to do the job you're describing. There are a lot of research issues that really need to be dug into, but you have to go further than that if you want that research to become real world solutions or government policy. (Witness the countless research papers on copyright/patents which seen to have had little effect on the issues.) I think that Copia has a good stab at making a mark on the world. It's amazing what a group of hard working people willing to give real thought to an idea can achieve when they set their mind to it. I'm especially interested in this part, "we'd love to see there be more CC-like options (including stronger public domain dedications) for content creators." As a writer who periodically releases creations into the public domain, I've always assumed that the CC: Zero license is the best bet for public domain distribution worldwide. Yet I sort of dread attaching the words "Creative Commons" or "license" to anything because then people think, "Cool, I can share as long as I don't make profit off of it." *headbonk* If only there were a way to dedicate something to the public domain internationally in such a way as to avoid confusing the average Jane.

    (Cool logo, too--my kudos to whoever designed it.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    rosspruden (profile), 12 Feb 2015 @ 5:27pm

    Techdirt shall lead the charge!

    Yes! THIS is the summit I've been waiting for. Had I more time to waste debating with the Negative Nancys, I would explain why.

    I can say I've been waiting a loooooooog time for Techdirt—a.k.a. the "people who get it"—to host a summit for brainstorming a functional action plan for the Information Age. I've already booked my ticket and hotel. I hope to meet some of you there!

    While we're at it, for those of you who do attend COPIA, I'll have a galley PDF of my book that I wrote about here on Techdirt. Titled THE BEST SHIP THAT EVER WAS—100 Short Stories For The Public Domain, it embodies the principles espoused here on Techdirt. As such, the book is free... but I'm open to receiving friendly donations. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 12 Feb 2015 @ 7:00pm

    It sounds a lot like Insight Community 2.0.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 13 Feb 2015 @ 12:52am

    Here's wishing it works wonders! Good luck!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 14 Mar 2015 @ 3:26am

    Think tanks and innovation

    Most of Silicon Valley is pretty clueless about what think tanks do. This enterprise may be valuable but it's not a think tank.

    Similarly, the four "innovation principles" strike me more as organizational values than ideas that have anything to do with innovation, and even at that they're more appropriate to non-profits than to businesses.

    Apple is the most innovative company in Silicon Valley and their business model doesn't follow this template at all. Apple is not nearly as much an imitator who depends on incremental improvement as most of today's California and NYC startups are.

    There's certainly a place for the 18th social network, the 15th CDN, the 5th SMS alternative, the 100th online tech institute, the Netscape dumpster divers, and the open source alternative to all the other blogging platforms, but it's mostly about serving niches with vertical plays to specialized audiences.

    But a Silicon Valley think tank would have to claim to disrupt the traditional mold to gather any eyeballs at all, so there's that. This will be amusing to follow, and with some perseverance and luck it could pivot in a useful direction.

    BTW, innovation is about empowering users and improving their quality of life by providing them with novel and valuable products and services; there are many ways to do that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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