Evening Seminar on Open Information Age at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law

MAY 20, 2016

I gave an evening seminar on Wednesday 11 May 2016 at the Faculty of Law as a guest of CIPIL (the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law) with the title: “Making an Open Information Age: Law, Politics and Economics”.

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Why does making an open information age matter? How would it would work? And how do we make it happen? This talk explores why we should make all public information open, free for anyone to use, share and build on. It covers how a world of open information would work, especially how we can fund innovation and creativity in “open-compatible” ways ranging from up-front methods to remuneration rights. Finally, it talks about the need for cooperation and concerted action to make this happen and why it won’t just happen on its own.

“Public” information as we use it means all information that can be legally or legitimately transferred to anyone else whether for free or for a fee. It therefore includes most software, many databases, and all published cultural content as well as the great deal of of the outputs from research and innovation. An open world is thus a significant change from the situation today where most information is covered by intellectual property monopoly rights such as patents or copyrights (or simply kept secret).

This talk focuses on the practical feasibility of an open world and how we get there from here. In particular, it looks at the various “open-compatible” funding mechanisms for open information including up-front funding, prizes and remuneration rights providing a detailed blueprint for how an open information society would work.

It also explores the economic, legal and political issues around implementing these including the political economy of current IP lobbying and provides a concrete suggestion for a way forward based on analogy with the environmental movement.