The SIGGRAPH Public Policy Program

July 2001

Bob Ellis

The mission of the SIGGRAPH Public Policy Program is to provide visibility of relevant public policy information, such as proposed legislation, to SIGGRAPH members and others in the computer graphics technical community and to provide information on the implications of technology to the non technical community, including policy makers and funding agencies. We do so by our "Computer Graphics" column, our web site (, serving as a catalyst for studies on computer graphics research topics, participation in conferences addressing policy issues, conducting issues surveys, writing white papers and working with ACM public policy groups, such as USACM.

SIGGRAPH 2001 Tutorial and Panel

Most of my SIGGRAPH time during this past year has gone into preparing proposals and materials for both a course and a panel at S2001. To my surprise, both proposals were accepted.

Course #1, The Impact of Public Policy on Computer Graphics was co-organized by Barbara Simons, ACM Past-President and founding chair of USACM and myself. Barbara and I will teach the course with additional material prepared by Myles Losch. We prepared proposals for both a two-hour tutorial and a half-day course. I favored the tutorial proposal, both to ease the amount of material to be prepared and to gauge audience interest. The tutorial proposal was the one accepted by S2001. We plan to put the entire course notes on the SIGGRAPH Public Policy website after the conference.

The panel, Beyond Copyright: The Brave New World of Digital Rights Management, will be presented on Thursday, 2:15-4. The panel was co-organized by David Richard Nelson and me. I will moderate the panel and David will be operating the electronic timer that we will use to discourage long-winded panel and audience "speeches". Panelists include a computing policy expert, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a legal scholar and a practicing attorney.

Computer Graphics Research Study

Committee member Mike McGrath has carried the ball on this one. We have an approved study plan and Mike is working with the NRC to gather funding support from other organizations and agencies. SIGGRAPH has forwarded $50,000 to the NRC as seed funding for the study.

Computer Graphics

We continued our tradition of having a multi-topic column in each quarterly issue. Topics included:

Nov. 2000 (

What Happened at S2000

Self-Provisioning of Residential Broadband Internet Access

Consumer Acceptance Aspect of Policy Issues (re Barbara's DVD column)


Feb. 2001 (

NRC Study Approved and Proposal

Update on SIGGRAPH 2001 Course and Panel Proposals

Third On-Line Survey

Update on Digital Television's Rate of Adoption

More Reader Comments

May 01 (

Update on S2001 Tutorial and Panel

FCC and Napster Update from Myles

Dan Burk's comments on UETA, UCITA, and DMCA from Feb 01 column

UCITA Diary #1

Aug 01 (

Welcome new readers (if available at S2001)

Acknowledge David & Laurie's roles in putting column together

Thank Myles for his continuing contribution to column

Community outreach program on digital technology policy

UCITA Diary #2

Losch/Burk exchange on UCITA

Committee member Myles Losch was well represented with material in every column. In addition, committee member Laurie Reinhart has taken over the job of collecting the contributions, putting the column together and working with the CG editorial staff.

Web Site

Thanks to volunteer webmaster David Richard Nelson, our website ( is frequently updated and organized for ease of access and efficiency. The CG columns usually appear within days of their completion and well before the print version. I notify interested SIGGRAPH members, the SIGGRAPH EC and USACM when each new column appears.

Third On-line Survey

David and Laurie did a great job in generating and presenting the results ( On-Line Survey) of our latest on-line survey. Unlike the previous surveys, this one asked directly pertinent policy questions. We haven't done anything yet on another survey, but my thought has been to run slightly modified versions of the third survey every 12-18 months in order to get a timely and updated picture of the situation. This would also allow us to track changes in attitudes on the issues

Local Involvement

On a personal basis, I was also involved in some local computing policy activities. I prepared and gave several presentations on technology policy issues for the general public. The material appears in the CG column ( Community Outreach on Digital Technology Policy) and in the S2001 course with permission for others to use it. UCITA was also introduced in my state legislature. I was active in the local group organized to oppose the bill. My experiences are described in ( UCITA Diary #1) and ( UCITA Diary #2) in the hopes that others might profit from them. The UCITA bill was withdrawn for this session, but it will be back.