Industry Notes: Hypothes.is Scores $2 Million Mellon Grant; Marrakesh Treaty Passes in Senate

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For an impressive sixth time, the annotation technologies company Hypothes.is has received a grant from the Mellon Foundation. And the US Senate has approved the Marrakesh Treaty, Its next stop: the House of Representatives.

Image – iStockphoto: Scyther5

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Citizens Depend on a Reliable Set of Tools’
Hypothes.is—the San Francisco-based nonprofit corporation that develops and promotes international standard-based online annotation technologies—has announced its receipt of a new grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The focus of this multi-year infusion of funding is titled “Scaling Annotation in Scholarship and the Humanities,” and it’s intended to support enhancements of the features and program development at Hypothes.is, with stress on the arts and humanities.

As literature and reading inexorably move toward the bracing intellectual connectivity of the Internet’s expanse, concepts of open annotation become increasingly important and empowering. And in announcing the new grant—its sixth from an obviously impressed Mellon grants board—the company’s Nate Angell writes, “With the support of the Mellon Foundation, Hypothes.is has made substantial progress in adding important features such as group functions and moderation, realizing a W3C standard for web annotation, building the Annotating All Knowledge Coalition to bring together major publishers and scholarly platforms around open annotation, and growing our user base in the arts and humanities through outreach in publishing and education.”

The new round of funding, Angell writes, “will enable us to capitalize on our previous work and current trends in scholarship, publishing and education to accelerate growth in annotation and execute our business strategy for long term sustainability.”

In a prepared statement, Donald J. Walters, senior program officer for scholarly communication at the Mellon Foundation, is quoted, making a good case for the importance of annotation to a democratic culture that requires the freedom to publish: “The web is a vital source of information for study and vigorous debate. In a flourishing democracy, these debates can explore a range of features from the provenance of the sources, their veracity, and the interpretations they represent or provoke.

“For citizens to pursue these ideas, they depend on a reliable and full set of Web-based tools, of which annotation is among the most important. Hypothes.is has been in the forefront of embedding annotation deep into the fabric of the web, and this grant promises to help increase the utility and wide availability of these tools.”

As Angell writes, “Publishers are expanding their services, using annotation to improve editorial processes, enable research workflows, and engage readers more deeply,” even as “researchers are increasing their collaboration and communication on digital platforms, where annotation provides an interoperable communication channel directly on top of scholarly works. …

“Hypothes.is will use this new support from the Mellon Foundation to ensure that open, standards-based annotation is broadly deployed across scholarly content and the platforms and tools where scholars and students produce, review and consume works.”


Marrakesh Treaty Passes in US Senate: Goes to House

Just when you thought you’d never hear a happy word from Capitol Hill again, the United States Senate, late on Thursday (June 28), passed the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.

In addition, the Senate also approved the implementing legislation (S. 2559).

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has been integrally involved in the promotion of the treaty and its progress through the US system. As we reported, it was in April that the AAP’s executive vice president and general counsel, Allan Adler, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the efficacy and importance of the treaty.

And in a statement on behalf of the association, its president and CEO, Maria Pallante, says, “Publishers greatly appreciate the actions by Senate leadership to advance ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty. We hope the House will now act quickly so that the Treaty and legislation can be sent to the President for his signature.”

So far, 39 countries have ratified and implemented the treaty. More about it as at the World Intellectual Property Association site here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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