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Nominations to Run for the Board of Directors

According to the Bylaws, nominees for the Board of Directors must either be a current member of an FC chapter or currently serving on the Board.

Reminder, nominations close at Midnight PDT on March 20, 2009.

How to nominate someone

  1. Contact that person.
  2. Edit this page and copy-paste the template below.
  3. Complete the information to reflect your nominee.

What to do if you are nominated

  1. Wait for your sponsor to add you to this page.
  2. Update the Bio and Statement sections below your name.

List of Nominees

(in alphabetical order, by last name)

Donovan, Kevin, Georgetown Free Culture

  • Nominated by Elizabeth Stark

Nomination accepted.


My name is Kevin Donovan and I'm a sophomore at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. I'm majoring in the long-winded 'Science, Technology and International Affairs' with a focus on technology and development. I am currently working for infoDev, a program of the World Bank that promotes information & communication technology in the developing world.

As a freshman, I founded the Georgetown chapter of Students for Free Culture and have worked on campus and in D.C. to promote our interests. Notable work in the field includes:

  1. As a result of my advocacy, Georgetown has begun an Open CourseWare initiative that will make a substantial portion of our educational resources freely available online. The goal, that I will be pursuing this summer when I work full-time on the project, will be to go beyond existing demonstrations of OCW and provide substantially richer, specialized content under open licenses.
  2. I have worked with the D.C.-based Public Knowledge to promote OCW and have formed important ties to the OCW Consortium.
  3. My location in D.C. has allowed me to take a more active role in policy formulation. I publicly represented SFC at the Department of Commerce's public hearing on the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Further, I led a campaign to encourage Obama to make a sensible pick for the IP Czar.
  4. I am in the final stages of designing a campaign against the RIAA's goal of circumventing due process by working with ISPs to disconnect accused file sharers.
  5. With Tim Hwang, I organized the Access to Knowledge panel at Free Culture 2008 and have forged ties with Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.
  6. I've written extensively about free culture topics in my course work, on my personal blog, and on the popular Techdirt blog.


I think there are three pressing (and interrelated) goals for SFC in the next year:

  1. Building a successful Open University Campaign
  2. Structuring SFC to be more action oriented
  3. Raising SFC's profile

On day 2 of FC08, when the Wheeler Declaration organically came to be, there was an incredible feeling of excitement. Sitting in the unconference, we had developed a platform for Students for Free Culture that would provide a great basis for the immediate future of the organization. Unfortunately, as we dispersed around the globe, progress slowed considerably.

I think it is essential that the Open University Campaign become a success and much of my work as a Board member would be dedicated to assisting chapters with the work needed to promote the campaign on their campus. This would require clear lines of communication so that progress can be known and hints shared widely. This would also require closer collaboration with organizations including ATA, Free Press, Public Knowledge, EFF & New America.

I think this campaign, and quite possible SFC generally, would benefit from increased specialization and accountability. I propose that each of the 5 principles in the Wheeler Declaration have a committee of 3-4 SFC members who would be responsible for developing guidelines and promotional materials for that part of the Open University Campaign. By focusing members who are passionate about specific topics, we can avoid inefficiencies and duplication of efforts. We're nearly 6 months past FC08 and have precious little to show for progress, so by designing a committee structure to develop actual outputs, it will allow chapters to advocate for change on their campus over the coming months.

In time, this structure of volunteer committees could be expanded, allowing member passionate about copyright reform or privacy from, say, Harvard and Berkeley, to connect and work together. We have to remember that SFC is a broad coalition of diversely interested people, so allowing people to work on what they are passionate about will give opportunities for real progress.

Finally, SFC needs to become more "user-friendly" for both members and the public at large. For members, this will mean lowering the barrier to entry - would-be members shouldn't have to learn IRC or WikiMarkup to become productive members. The free culture movement has expanded well beyond free software aficionados who are comfortable with such solutions, but to make SFC an organization welcoming of a new generation of activists, we will need to be accommodating of the less technically-inclined. As for the public, SFC should draft statements on topics about which we care - SFC should be a go-to voice when relevant. For example, for Conyers' bill attacking open access last month, SFC should have done more than have an ephemeral mailing list thread. In time, journalists and policy-makers should come to see SFC as an important voice in issues of digital freedom.

Ducruet, Christina, Current SFC Board member

  • Nominated by Kevin Driscoll


Nomination Accepted


Driscoll, Kevin, Current SFC Board member / MIT Free Culture

  • Nominated by Christina Ducruet



Higgins, Parker, Free Culture @ NYU

  • Nominated by Fred Benenson

Nomination accepted.



Moskowitz, Ben, SFC@Berkeley

  • Nominated by Alex Kozak

Nomination accepted.


While studying Political Science and Critical Theory at UC Berkeley, I co-founded the SFC@Berkeley chapter of Students for Free Culture and helped build important connections between Bay Area public interest groups. I also co-organized the Free Culture 2008 Conference, a two-day event to bring together leading voices in technology policy and campus activism to articulate a national agenda for SFC (videos available here).

In response to a spike in P2P lawsuits on the Berkeley campus, I also created and taught a seminar at Berkeley's iSchool on the cultural dimensions of piracy and convened a lecture series with guests from EFF and Internet Archive. In addition to my work on FC issues, I served as a volunteer teacher at California's San Quentin State Prison, helping prisoners attain high school equivalency certificates.

I'm currently coordinating the Open Video Conference in NYC, a broad effort to democratize and decentralize online video. I'm also a student of Mandarin at NYU SCPS. 你讲中文? Follow me @benrito.


Priorities, briefly:

1. Develop the Open University campaign, culminating in a media unveiling at Free Culture 2009/2010 Conference in Washington, D.C.

2. Improve communications and coordination between chapters

3. Make the organization less intimidating for newcomers


SFC grew from a dedicated corps of hacker-libertarians to a broad movement because of gift from the RIAA: the copyfight. The p2p lawsuits initiated by Big Music have probably attracted more people to our movement than any other single factor.

Today—thanks to our efforts, and also to the basic nature of the internet—the copyfight is winning itself. While there are still huge advances to be made in some areas (fair use exemptions, stopping DMCA abuse), we've hit critical mass. Remix culture is here to stay, and sharing and participating in the formation of culture is now something most of us do without even thinking. That's because some of the basic ideas behind Free Culture—remix, sharing, participation—have percolated into the public consciousness.

This doesn't mean we should abandon the copyfight—we're just now running our victory laps! But to put things in perspective, consider that last year marked the 10th anniversary of the DMCA. To remain fresh and relevant, we'll need to refocus our energies. We'll need to return the organization to something closer to its original mission: ensuring that technology empowers individuals and protecting software freedom. Our mission is to ensure that technology continues to serve the public interest.

The Open University campaign conceived at the FC2008 Conference gives us a great new roadmap. If you haven't familiarized yourself with OU, you should have a look. We now have five pillars for change, and we're focused on where we can be most powerful: the university. Individual chapters can keep on doing what they do best, and the national movement will be energized with a guiding purpose.

One of the ideas behind Open University is that we'll create a set of criteria for judging universities on how open they are, then issue public report cards. These report cards would comprise a comprehensive evaluation of how friendly schools are to F/OSS, how thoroughly they embrace open access publishing, how resistant they are to filtering, etc. I think we should make the OU report cards the central part of our next conference, and that this conference should take place in Washington, D.C. Convening the conference in D.C. will give us a national platform for our message and close proximity to lawmakers.

As a board member I'd build partnerships with FC-friendly organizations operating on the Hill—organizations like New America, Public Knowledge, EFF, UAEM, and the ACLU. We'd see to it that the conference is televised and covered by traditional media, because we can still make believers out of social-justice oriented people who aren't geeks. We'll approach this campaign in the most mainstream and inviting way possible: Open University will be the new public face of SFC. It's important going forward that we see ourselves as a social-justice oriented organization, and not merely advocates for open source software.

If we're successful, the idea of an Open University will percolate into popular consciousness—just like remix culture and participatory media did. Someday, people will come to expect that their universities are open. Harvard already makes its open access policy a point of pride; MIT is sure to follow suit.

With enough lead time and foresight, I'm confident we can pull this off.

The first step is already underway: several chapters have begun the necessary research to create grading guidelines. But we have a long way to go. This project will require a lot of active coordination from the board, and perhaps the energy of a dedicated coordinator. What's less important than how we choose to organize ourselves is that we take initiative. One thing that has become apparent is that talking about how to organize ourselves hasn't gotten us anywhere.

With SFC, less is more. We don't need an elaborate organizational structure. What we need is wide-open channels of communication and medium-term goals. I've laid out a vision to get us going, but I'm interested in hearing your suggestions. What does SFC need to be effective? Let me know what you think! benrito at geemail

Owens III, Clifford Conley, Free Culture at Virginia Tech

  • Nominated by Joel Alejandre

Nomination accepted.


When I was born, my mother told the doctors to take me away because she thought I was an alien. Perhaps she was right?


I am a better candidate than my competition. You will be happier if you vote for me.

Pavlosky, Nelson, Free Culture George Mason

  • Nominated by himself

Nomination accepted, naturally.


Nelson Pavlosky is an 2nd-year law student at George Mason Law in Arlington, VA. As co-founder of both Students for Free Culture and its first campus chapter, Free Culture Swarthmore, Nelson has been involved in the "free culture" movement since shortly after the term was coined. He made international headlines in 2003 as a plaintiff in OPG v. Diebold, a case which set an important precedent protecting freedom of speech from abuse of copyright law. When he is not engaged in activism, he likes to play guitar, ride his bike, and eat fruit, but not simultaneously. He is currently working on starting an SFC chapter on both the Fairfax and Arlington campuses of George Mason University.


Internal organization:

  • It should be easy to start and maintain a chapter
  • It should be easy to volunteer on the global level
  • It should be easy to contact and communicate with all of our chapters and their members
  • It should be easy to coordinate campaigns and actions between our chapters
  • There should be an employee to ensure reliability and handle grunt work

Goals for activism:

  • Affect government policy through the executive, legislative and judicial branches
  • Represent our students' perspectives to the off-campus world and the "man on the street"
  • Ensure that our campuses are leading the way and setting an example for free culture

Honestly, as the person with the longest experience running Students for Free Culture, I am much more concerned with our internal organization than anything else. My goal is to make Students for Free Culture a sustainable institution which will keep running after I graduate.

Make it easy to start and maintain a chapter
  • Care packages should be sent - One SFC tradition has been mailing a package full of propaganda material from friendly organizations to new chapters when they start up, as well as existing chapters at the beginning of each school year. Care packages can help educate the members of the club and provide them with material to use when tabling at an activities fair at the beginning of the year, which is when most chapters get most of their members. It makes our chapters look more organized and gives prospective members stuff to take home with them from the activities fair. I will ensure that care packages happen reliably while I am on the board, and I will make sure a system for sending them out continues after my term ends, hopefully through an employee.
  • We should have our own propaganda - Using other organizations' propaganda is nice since we don't have to do any work to create it. However, there is no reason why we shouldn't have our own pamphlets, stickers, buttons etc. I will continue the current board's success with T-shirts and expand it to other SFC goodies. I will personally take responsibility for delivering an up-to-date pamphlet.
  • Pre-planned events/actions should be available to kick-start chapters - When you first start a chapter, it can be extremely difficult to figure out what your first few events should be, especially when you are just starting to learn about the movement. In fact, whenever I asked a potential FC activist "why don't you start a chapter" the most common response I heard was "I wouldn't know what to do with it". We can remove some of that doubt and uncertainty by pre-packaging some activities for new chapters so that they can easily execute events without having to brainstorm, design and plan an event themselves. We should do case studies of popular events that have gone well in the past, such as Creative Commons art shows, and provide flyers and other materials to use for the event. Ideally it should be possible to start a chapter as a single person, by leveraging the experience and past labor of existing chapters. I will take responsibility for pre-packaging at least two or three events/actions and include those materials in care packages.
  • Chapter webspace should be pre-packaged and well-maintained - Chapters that do not know how to set up a website should be able to simply ask us for one and have one set up for them on a reliable system that gets reliably updated. Local chapter websites tend to suffer from bitrot when the most tech-savvy member graduates, and a global web infrastructure should be easier to collectively maintain. We should be able to provide a blog, wiki, and mailing list to any chapter that wants them, and we should offer other services such as a Yammer replacement / Laconica server once we have the basics down. Our solution should be superior to simply hosting on e.g. because we can have nice default artwork and plugins pre-installed for them. I will work closely with the Web Team leader to ensure that our webspace is 100% FOSS, 100% up-to-date and 99% reliable (let's be realistic).
Make it easy to volunteer for the global organization

If you are a member of a local chapter and you want to help out other chapters, there is currently no clear way to do so. I would:

  • Have regular volunteer meetings / co-working sessions - Whether online or in person our volunteers should get together regularly to work on stuff, and people should be able to get involved by simply showing up. Regional conferences should include volunteer co-working sessions as a major part of the schedule.
  • Overhaul the Get Involved page - It should be clear from visiting our website exactly how a person can start a chapter, and how they can get involved with Students for Free Culture in other ways. The current page is a generic "how to get involved with the free culture movement" rather than a primer on getting involved with SFC.
  • Ask people about their skills and interests when they join the organization - When people start a chapter or register on our website, they should tell us if they are good at graphic design, computer programming etc. and we should be able to contact them for help when we need them. Creating a social network by e.g. installing BuddyPress might be a good way to do this.

I will write further about my platform in the future (I have to go to bed now).

Phinney, Parker, Dartmouth Free Culture

  • Nominated by Elizabeth Stark

Nomination accepted



Questions, Thoughts, Concerns

This is a space for any FC member to post thoughts to provoke and guide the statements of board nominees.

  • How will can we improve communication among the various chapters?
  • What is something specific we can do to better support and encourage new chapters?
  • How can we improve our current tools?
  • What progress will you make on the Open University campaign?

Past Nominations