Information and communication technologies (ICTs)--especially the Internet and the mobile phone--have changed the lives of people all over the world. These changes affect not just the affluent populations of income-rich countries but also disadvantaged people in both global North and South, who may use free Internet access in telecenters and public libraries, chat in cybercafes with distant family members, and receive information by text message or email on their mobile phones.
The movement against restrictive digital copyright protection arose largely in response to the excesses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. In The Digital Rights Movement, Hector Postigo shows that what began as an assertion of consumer rights to digital content has become something broader: a movement concerned not just with consumers and gadgets but with cultural ownership. Increasingly stringent laws and technological measures are more than inconveniences; they lock up access to our “cultural commons.”
In making decisions, we often seek advice. Online, we check Amazon recommendations, eBay vendors' histories, TripAdvisor ratings, and even our elected representatives' voting records. These online reputation systems serve as filters for information overload. In this book, experts discuss the benefits and risks of such online tools.
Openness is not a given on the Internet. Technical standards--the underlying architecture that enables interoperability among hardware and software from different manufacturers--increasingly control individual freedom and the pace of innovation in technology markets. Heated battles rage over the very definition of "openness" and what constitutes an open standard in information and communication technologies.
We live in an interoperable world. Computer hardware and software products from different manufacturers can exchange data within local networks and around the world using the Internet. The competition enabled by this compatibility between devices has led to fast-paced innovation and prices low enough to allow ordinary users to command extraordinary computing capacity.
The Swedish Pirate Party emerged as a political force in 2006 when a group of software programmers and file-sharing geeks protested the police takedown of The Pirate Bay, a Swedish file-sharing search engine. The Swedish Pirate Party, and later the German Pirate Party, came to be identified with a “free culture" message that came into conflict with the European Union’s legal system.