18 January 2007

Governments should focus on connectivity, content and copyright to support user-generated content

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Prof. Michael Geist
Canadian internet law professor Michael Geist describes in a BBC guest column how governments can help their citizens make the most of the web.

“Time Magazine’s choice late last month of “You” (by which it meant all the users generating content on the web) as the person of the year was mocked by critics as a poor choice that by-passed several notable political leaders.

Yet the choice may ultimately be viewed as the tipping point when the remarkable outbreak of internet participation that encompasses millions of bloggers, music remixers, amateur video creators, citizen journalists, wikipedians and Flickr photographers broke into the mainstream.

The choice may also cause government leaders and policy makers to contemplate how they fit into the world of a participatory internet and user-generated content. […]

In the mid-1990s, the emergence of the internet and e-commerce elicited an engaged approach from many governments, who sought to balance the need for a private sector-led, self-regulatory model with e-commerce and privacy legislation that built consumer and business confidence in the new medium.

A decade later, the role of government will be to support the enormous economic and cultural potential of user-generated content, while avoiding steps that might impede its growth. It can do so by focusing on the three “C’s” – connectivity, [free access to] content, and copyright [relaxation].”

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