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July 28, 2005

The right to digital freedom

Danny O'Brien writes about our UK digital rights project in The Guardian today. Hopefully this will get a few more people to add their names to our pledge. In less than a week, we've managed to attract 450 people to promise their support to us, we've had emails from individuals who want to do more than just give us money, and we've had both interest and support from journalists who see a clear need for an EFF-like organisation here in the UK.

Since Saturday, I've been obsessively refreshing the PledgeBank page, watching the count go up - sometimes in increments of one, sometimes in huge bounds. The response has, I must admit, surprised me as I rather thought we'd get pledges from a few dozen of the people who were there at OpenTech, and that would be that. Instead, we have reached nearly half our target within just five days.

I suspect, however, that attracting that last 550 people will be a lot harder than persuading the first 450, which is where you come in. Somewhere out there, in the blogosphere, are another 550 people who feel passionately enough about protecting their digital freedoms that they'll support our endeavour. We just need to reach them, so if you want to support us, please blog.

Additional links: my initial post; Cory's BoingBoing post; and Danny's post about how this got going, from which:

What can you do with a monthly budge of 5000UKP a month? Well, at the risk of sounding "Just Five Pounds Will Free This Poor DRMed Document And Let It Roam Free In One of Our Free Range Open Standards", we did some back of the envelope calculations after the talk, and agreed we could do something: Probably two staffers and an office.

One would act as a media conduit. Half our problem in the UK right now is that the press just don't have anyone in their address books that they can confidently call about on these issues. As Rufus said, most of the time they just run music industry press releases as news. The biggest lesson for me with NTK was that your best way to influence the agenda, and generate support, is to generate stories, and point people to the right experts. Just having someone at the end of a phone, handing out quotes and press releases, and pro-actively calling journalists to make sure they know what's going on, putting them in contact with all the other orgs in this area in the UK, is half the work.

The rest of the job is actual activism (one person can do a lot, if they don't need to cram all their white paper writing, research, and lobbying between contract coding sessions, and finishing their university degree) and bootstrapping more funding.

UPDATE: We're also now on BBCi. Pretty good level of interest for a project that currently doesn't even have a name.

Originally posted on Chocolate and Vodka.

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