January 30, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Open Rights Group hits the ground running

For Immediate Release Open Rights Group hits the ground running

  • Hundreds of cyber-activists fund UK digital rights group
  • British author Neil Gaiman joins as Patron
  • Group to give evidence to MPs on dangers of digital rights management this Thursday
London, UK - On Christmas Day, over a thousand people pledged to create an organisation "to preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world". Now, within two weeks of beginning fundraising activity, five hundred supporters have already put their money where their clicks were: paying a fiver a month to ensure that the Open Rights Group becomes the lasting online advocacy group so desperately needed in the UK. Suw Charman, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said: "We are committed to giving a voice to the public - creators, consumers and mash-up artists alike - who have, until now, had no representation in discussions about legislation that affects their lives, their livelihoods, and their liberties. Our aims are to increase awareness of digital rights issues, help foster grassroots activity and to preserve and extend civil liberties in the digital age, and I am delighted that so many people are making their pledge support real." To assist in their aims, the Open Rights Group has announced multi-award winning author Neil Gaiman as their Patron. Gaiman, born in Porchester, is best known for his science fiction and fantasy work, including his best-selling graphic novel "The Sandman". He has also campaigned for many years for authors' freedoms, winning the Defender of Liberty Award from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in 1997, and writes extensively online. "We're in a world in which digital rights, the world of the internet, and the exchange of information is getting more and more important and relevant to all our lives, wherever we are," said Gaiman. "I'm delighted that there's now a group of people committed to preserving and extending civil liberties in a digital world and to being sane and sensible as we careen into a digital future. I was honoured to be asked to be Patron of the Open Rights Group, and I look forward to working with them for years to come." Gaiman is joined by an Advisory Council, an extensive group of Net experts headed by fellow author Cory Doctorow. London-based Doctorow, who until recently was the Electronic Frontier Foundation's European Affairs Director, said "Britain needs a home for UK technology activists to converge on, more now than ever. This is, after all, the age of universal surveillance, extremist copyright and the elimination of due process rights. I'm enormously honoured to serve on the Open Rights Groups Advisory Council and am glad to see so many members of the public supporting us in the fight." The Open Rights Group joins a flurry of digital rights groups who have sprung up in the last six months in the UK, Ireland and Canada. TJ McIntyre, chairman of Digital Rights Ireland and Law Lecturer at University College Dublin said "We look forward to working with the Open Rights Group on a number of pressing issues which affect both our jurisdictions - data retention, ID card proposals and the plans to make copyright breaches a criminal rather than a civil offence." "National digital rights groups are proving to be some of the most effective advocacy organisations around", said David Fewer of Online Rights Canada. "We look forward to comparing notes and working together with our British cousins". This month, the Open Rights Group will be speaking with other organisations on the dangers of digital rights management at the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group hearing on Thursday February 2nd, and holding an open networking event in London on February 7th. Contact Suw Charman below for more details on either event. Supporters can donate at: http://www.openrightsgroup.org/support-org/ For more information, contact Suw Charman, Executive Director, Open Rights Group.