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This week’s front page editor

Clare Sambrook

Clare Sambrook, investigative journalist, co-edits Shine a Light.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The future of copyright is being fought out between two polarised factions. Music and film producers like Jack Valenti are looking for harsher ways to deter digital copying: the users and programmers, like Richard Stallman, say copyright has no place in a digital age. In this debate we work towards defining practical solutions for the future, with contributions from Siva Vaidhyanathan, Brian Zisk from the Future of Music Coalition, Jason Toynbee, and 9-time Grammy nominated singer, Janis Ian. Also see: the interactive copyright timeline.

The iCommons harvest

There's no tragedy in a digital commons where quality content is king, says Felix Cohen.

The reinvention of scarcity

The community-building projects of the digital world are celebrated for the abundance they make it possible to access and share; but what if the culture of a community only arises from jointly endured constraints? Tony Curzon Price explores a key paradox of the online age.

The Magnatune revolution

The net-based record label Magnatune is pioneering a new way of making "open music" an instrument of creative empowerment, says its founder John Buckman.

Free culture: tumble down the walls

The Creative Commons movement needs to have a bold vision for the enlargement of cultural freedom, says Tom Chance.

The future of intellectual property: Andrew Gowers interviewed

Andrew Gowers, commissioned by the British government to map the next generation's intellectual-property framework, explains his thinking to Becky Hogge – and leaves her feeling that the "copyfight" for a public domain of information has only just begun.

Rip this: piracy and politics in Sweden

Last weekend’s pro-piracy rallies in Stockholm were a surprise even to local copyright reformers. George South asks, how many peer to peer file sharers does it take to swing an election?

Mining the wealth of networks with Yochai Benkler

Yochai Benkler's new book "The Wealth of Networks" is both precise and provocative in defining afresh the role of peer production in the networked information economy. Christian Ahlert, public project lead of Creative Commons England and Wales, interviews him.

Google: Search or Destroy?

Google stands accused of copyright infringement by two major American authors’ associations and a French newswire. But the tools the company provides have done more to promote global access to information than any other. Here, librarians, lawyers, legislators and thinkers discuss the rights and wrongs of an internet giant.

Global voices: blogging the world

The pioneering Global Voices initiative hosted bloggers from Algeria to Zambia at a conference in London. An impressed Becky Hogge reflects on the challenges it may soon face.

The online public finds its voice

The Open Rights Group campaign for online freedom of information, individual liberty and the integrity of the public domain is a new stage in the defence of digital rights, says Becky Hogge.

Mozilla's 'magic pixie dust'

Open standards are just as important as open debate: Becky Hogge explains why openDemocracy recommends the Mozilla Firefox web browser.

Creative Commons: Making copyright work for democracy

Since its inception openDemocracy has set the standard for accessible and informed deliberation of globally important issues. Now it is truly both open and democratic. Siva Vaidhyanathan welcomes openDemocracy to the Creative Commons.

From 13 June 2005 openDemocracy will be publishing the majority of its articles under Creative Commons licences. It's part of our contribution to global democracy. The rest is up to you. Click here to read more.

Democracy and dissent at the World Intellectual Property Organisation

On World Intellectual Property Day, Becky Hogge speaks to Cory Doctorow, who has been campaigning for reform at the World Intellectual Property Organisation for two years, about the strains put on the democratic process by the arrival of dissenting voices.

Patents for profit: dystopian visions of the new economy

The struggle over intellectual property is the concern of more than knowledge economy specialists, says Becky Hogge: it is a contest over freedom as well as technology.

Beyond romance and repression: social authorship in a capitalist age

The imposition of punitive new intellectual property regimes represents a corporate assault on public culture. The connection between capitalism and copyright helps us to understand why it is happening; while the reality of ‘social authorship’ offers a way to open up new possibilities for creative workers in a reformed copyright system.

Play fair: the evolution of copyright

Since May under the deliberately provocative title ‘the people vs copyright’ we have been discussing copyright laws in the digital age. Bill Thompson ponders, summarises and wraps up the debate. If things are moving as quickly in the intellectual property rights world as he suggests, whether it stays wrapped is open to question.

The ABCs of copyright protection

In managing copyright, technology is better than law. The balance between artistic and business interests and users who enjoy free access can be preserved by giving the market time to work.

The European Copyright Directive in the UK: making rules that strangle freedoms

The UK government is preparing to implement the European Copyright Directive. If the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act seems harsh, the UK Patent Office has even more stringent measures in mind to enforce a copy-protection regime that will inhibit free inquiry.

Carnival and calypso in the shadow of copyright: life lessons from Trinidad and Tobago

Pirating and copying was part of everyday life in the small island state of Trinidad and Tobago until 1996. The effect of new laws was to disturb its distinctive calypso and carnival traditions and to threaten its educational system. For a young engineering student, there was only one way to go: adapt and survive.

The people vs. copyright: summary, response, and next steps

openDemocracy’s copyright debate has clarified an issue too often mired in unhelpful polarisation between radicals and conservatives.

Losing money to pirates cannot be good

Music, like water, is naturally free. But just as money helps ensure a clean and safe supply, so the best guarantee of music’s freedom is rewarding its wellspring, the composer.

Cyberspace, copyright and cynicism: Questions and answers

After the Siva Vaidhyanathan talk at openDemocracy with on 6 June 2002, there was a lively discussion. Here are some extracts, by Solana Larsen.

A freedom that works: the upside of download

The threat posed to the recorded music industry by unauthorised download is an article of faith to many insiders. It is also a myth, says this ageless independent singer-songwriter: freedom is good for artists and for business.

A vehicle for the denigration of copright

What troubles me is the use of the headline, The People Vs. Copyright, to frame what should be a serious public debate about copyright.

Defending a name

I think that our debate has shown yet again just how little the two sides in this discussion understand each other, and in doing so has justified our chosen name.

Gridlocking Knowledge

Copyright benefits publishers, service providers and biotech companies, but in this scientist’s view, it is a wicked obstacle to scientific progress.

The law is an ass

Entertainment companies ought to come up with technology that is sound and accomplishes what they want without coercion. But some of the problems they want to solve are impossible. Eric Raymond talks to Solana Larsen.

The contract of copyright: towards an ethical cynicism?

Cyberspace is an essentially cynical medium, says the leading internet thinker Siva Vaidhyanathan, in a talk presented at the London offices of openDemocracy on 6 June 2002. But an illusion-free awareness of the character of the net paradoxically opens up the ethical discussion needed to guide and regulate it.

Press pause: webcasting and the future of music

The Internet could help channel more money to musicians. But the record industry is sabotaging the process to remain in control. Brian Zisk talks to Solana Larsen.

Webcasting a hook into the royalty pool

The entire system is computerised, so why not make a royalty pool based on more than guesswork? Even the major record labels cannot deny that it makes sense. Walter McDonough talks to Solana Larsen.

How far can we regulate the online world?

Government must understand the values of digital technology and use their regulatory powers to shape Internet space

Controlling copyright through technology: when elephants dance

The fusion of the entertainment industry with consumer electronics is creating a breed of giants which is trampling underfoot historically-established guarantees of moral rights and fair use. Is there a way forward that can adequately protect the interests both of authors and consumers?

Fairness and Films

After reading Valenti, I love the pirates even more!

Copyright: decide it in the open

The future of copyright is being decided behind closed doors, by representatives of a nervous industry given decision-making powers by equally nervous governments, eager to wash their hands of responsibility for arbitrating disputes.
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