The MacArthur Special Funding Initiative sought to contribute to the evolution of an intellectual property system that provides incentives for creating scientific and cultural materials, protecting copyright owners who bring these materials to consumers, and enabling users to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digital technologies to create and share content, especially for educational, scientific, and artistic purposes. The core of this initiative was to contribute to the design of institutions that govern how rights to data and information will be constructed in the online environment, and help improve the laws that define the scope and reach of those rights.
The evaluation's purpose was to better understand the Foundation's role in this emerging field, to evaluate the Foundation's grantmaking, and to examine the aggregate results of grantees' projects. Dr. Ruth Okediji, William L. Prosser Professional of Law, University of Minnesota Law School, was selected to do this work. She reviewed over 12,000 pages of reports submitted by grantees, interviewed grantees and non-grantees, including leaders in the field, and conducted independent research, including analyses of case law and policy discussions.