Monday, 6 October 2014

Information doesn't want to be free

Back to work, with only a touch of jet lag. Spent the morning in interviews using an interesting interactive panel discussion between the candidates and stakeholders. Then this afternoon we had a visitor from another University interested in our ideas on organisational change. Always a pleasure talking to visitors, and we learn a lot from each other. Also had the opportunity to show him our Helpdesk operates, which of course he was very impressed with, and around the Information Commons.

This evening I went to a meeting of the Open Rights Group, an organisation set up to protect and promote our rights in this digital age. We were privileged to hear Cory Doctorow, a founder member of ORG and all round good internet guy and sci-fi writer, talk to us about "Information doesn't want to be Free". He covered many topics including  Digital Rights Management, monitoring, copyright and how important free and universal access to the internet is. Always interesting and entertaining, sometimes scary.

He suggested that everything we do today involves the internet. Everything we do in the future will require the internet. It is the nervous system of the 21st century. He explained how DRM does not stop people making copies of work (as he put it, most DRM systems can be broken by a bored Norwegian teenager in an afternoon), but they do make it very difficult to get your content back from a publisher as you lose all negotiating rights. Interesting case in the news at the moment illustrating this between Hatchette and Amazon.

He also talked about competition between indie channels and the big publishers, and the laws preventing you revealing flaws in software and devices, because they could lead to DRM being compromised. I was pleased he covered our own awful Digital economy Act, ruched through in the "wash up" before the last parliament was dissolved which gives the potential for a whole family's access to the internet to be removed if someone in their household has infringed copyright. Or as he put it - we can take away a family's access to free speech, information and public services just because someone has entertained themselves in the wrong way.

Great talk as always.

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