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OU on the BBC: Digital Planet - Ownership and openness

Updated Tuesday 22nd February 2011

What does it really mean to own digital content and devices?

An iPhone gets Creative commons image Icon hexmar under CC-BY-NC-SA licence under Creative-Commons license What does it mean to own digital content and devices? As technology allows information and culture to be shared more easily than ever before, Gareth Mitchell is joined by Ray Corrigan, senior lecturer in technology at The Open University, to look at the ongoing struggle for ownership between producers and consumers.

We hear from students who integrated Xbox Kinect into their own robot, and ask how major companies respond to consumers re-purposing their off-the-shelf devices.

Creative Commons licenses try to bridge the gap between restricting and opening up ownership, but even these may not offer enough flexibility or incentives when it comes to licensing content. One digital tool, Mukurtu, enables sharing to be tailored to the needs of different indigenous communities, so, for example, a group rather than an individual can authorise a license.

And what happens when technology's biggest players fight over ownership between themselves? After accusing Microsoft of stealing Google's search results, Amit Singhal, head of Google's core ranking team, defends open search results on one hand and proprietary search algorithms on the other.

Open government is a hot topic, founded on the idea that much of governments' data should belong to citizens. Bristol City Council recently commissioned several independent projects to use open council data to benefit local residents. Digital Planet's reporter Tracey Logan finds out that opening up the data for free was not always easy: the question of ownership got in the way.

Main image: a jailbroken iPhone

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