November 20, 2006 | By Fred von Lohmann

Petition Urging Smithsonian Sunshine

Back in April 2006, it came to light that the Smithsonian Institution had signed an exclusive 30-year deal with Showtime to create a new cable channel. The catch? It effectively would give Showtime exclusive access to the Smithsonian collections for certain uses. Read our previous posts (1, 2, 3) for more about why this represents a serious threat to the public domain materials contained in the priceless Smithsonian collections.

Now the Smithsonian is urging the Congressional committees that oversee it to simply forget about the controversy. Apparently, Smithsonian representatives are telling Congress that the Showtime contract "has to date created no problems" and "there is no further opposition." This is particularly outrageous in light of the fact that the General Accounting Office is currently finalizing a report about the Showtime deal. Until the report comes out, it is premature to let the Smithsonian off the hook.

Fortunately, Carl Malamud has assembled an open letter to the relevant members of Congress. Please consider adding your name and let Congress know that you haven't forgotten this issue, and that sunshine is still needed.

You have until November 25 (this Saturday) to sign the letter before it is delivered to Congress.

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