Annual Report 2006/2007

Table of content

Chair’s Foreword
About the Open Rights Group
How ORG started
Digital rights issues
Achievements in our first two years
Data retention
Digital Rights Management
Gowers Review and copyright term extension
Electronic voting
Bedding into the grassroots
Creating tools for future campaigners
Getting voices heard
Working with the media
The year ahead
New issues
Building the organisation
How you can help ORG
Support ORG
Standing Order form
Financial Report
Treasurer’s statement
Accounts: Income and expenditure
Accounts: Balance sheet
Accounts: Notes to the accounts
Independent Examiner’s report
Appendix I: ORG people
Appendix II: Company information
Appendix III: Publications

Chair’s Foreword

Little more than two years ago, what is now the Open Rights Group (ORG) was just an idea in the heads of half-a-dozen individuals. It was, however, an idea whose time had come, as evidenced by the fact that today ORG is an influential and vibrant organisation, responding to a wide array of government consultations, driving forward high-profile projects and featuring in the address books of dozens of journalists. How have we got here and why has this happened?

In recent years, many citizens have become concerned about the impact of digital technologies on their civil liberties. We have seen increasing encroachment of public and private sector organisations into the private lives of individuals, frequently facilitated by technology. Government often views technology and data as ‘the solution’ to political, social and economic questions that are invariably ill-formulated and under-analysed. The results are too frequently more surveillance, less privacy and inappropriate use of technology.

Further, digital technologies are affecting citizens’ ability to exercise their existing legal rights effectively, as some segments of the private sector have increasingly looked to government to extend their rights in an effort to prop up outdated business models. And digital technologies may also generate new possibilities for public (non personal) data, though the UK government has tended to corral public sector information, limiting its exploitation and thus creative and economic opportunities.

For too long, there has been little informed public debate in the UK about any of these issues. Media coverage and policy-making has largely been driven by agendas set in Whitehall and corporate board rooms and there was no organisation in the UK defending citizens’ digital rights.

The question of why such an organisation did not exist was raised at a conference at Imperial College in 2005. Within hours, a public pledge was established on Pledgebank to cooperate in the founding and funding of such an organisation.

Within days, a community of people had begun to wrangle with such issues as how it should be structured, what legal formation it should have, what its statutes should look like and how it should operate. Not forgetting the all-important and much-discussed ‘What shall we call it?’. Within weeks of the pledge maturing, money from supporters was being credited to a newly opened bank account.

Even as the organisation was forming, it was already responding to a government consultation on digital rights management. And from the beginning ORG was able to draw on a wide array of acknowledged experts in their fields, on topics ranging from intellectual property law to computer security. Before long, journalists were regularly seeking out the ORG view on digital questions of the day and ORG was contributing to a wide array of consultations.

ORG has travelled a considerable distance since those early days, as confidence and ambition increased. ORG reached its stride with its 2006 Release the Music campaign against further extension of copyright in sound recordings. While recording industry representatives wheeled out wealthy pensioner Cliff Richard – and several dead musicians – in their support, ORG better captured the public mood on this topic, and its evidence-based approach won the day in influencing government policy.

Even more ambitious was ORG’s subsequent work on e-voting, where we took advantage of recent electoral legislation to involve volunteers as official observers at elections implementing e-voting and e-counting across the UK. This project generated a wealth of new data to inform the electoral modernisation debate.

What started out as a feeling and an idea in 2005 has today become an inclusive, effective and well-governed organisation that punches well above its weight – ORG only appointed its first full-time Executive Director in 2007. ORG’s able staff of two are supported in their work by an Advisory Council that helps shape the policy agenda and a Board focused on efficient use of resources, good governance and sustainability.

But just as importantly, ORG benefits from all manner of support from the many people involved in this grassroots organisation. From the individuals who support us financially or in kind, to the scores of people who keep our lively email list buzzing and those who generously volunteer their time and expertise, there are hundreds of people who contribute to ORG’s success. Our supporters and volunteers, who come from right across the political spectrum, drive our organisation, informing debates on a wide range of issues and providing amazing energy for projects and campaigns.

Since our inception, we have been fortunate to receive financial support not only from supporters but also from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd. We are excited to have recently been awarded further funding to develop our information infrastructure, build our community and develop our communications strategy.

Looking ahead, ORG aims to be a positive force in the world of digital rights and we are ambitious to spread our net wider: to address the ever widening array of digital rights issues currently facing British society, to expand our education activities and to engage with those not currently aware of our work.

I hope you enjoy reading about our past work and future plans. Louise Ferguson Chair, Open Rights Group

About Open Rights Group

The Open Rights Group (ORG) is a grassroots technology organisation which exists to protect civil liberties wherever they are threatened by the poor implementation and regulation of digital technology. We call these rights our “digital rights”.

Our digital rights are affected when, for example, the increasing ability of corporate and state entities to store data about our physical make-up, our habits or our communications threatens our right to privacy. Our digital rights are affected when the introduction of computers into the voting process threatens our right to a free and transparent election, or when over-zealous intellectual property legislation, brought into being by the concerns of traditional entettainment conglomerates when faced with new technologies, denies us access to our cultural heritage or threatens our right to freedom of expression. Often, it is simple ignorance that threatens our digital rights: the media and politicians sometimes don’t understand new technologies, but comment and pass laws anyway.

ORG’s aims are:

  • to preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world;
  • to raise awareness in the media of digital rights abuses;
  • to provide a media clearinghouse, connecting journalists with experts and activists;
  • to collaborate with other digital rights and related organisations; and
  • to nurture a community of campaigning volunteers, from grassroots activists to technical and legal experts.

How ORG started

The Open Rights Group was founded in December 2005 by a pledge from 1000 members to “create a standing order of 5 pounds per month to support an organisation that will campaign for digital rights in the UK”.

The ORG story started on 23 July 2005, when a group of technology activists – Danny O’Brien, Cory Doctorow, Ian Brown, Rufus Pollock and Suw Charman – organised a panel discussion entitled “Where’s the British EFF?”, at Open Tech 2005, a technology and open source conference. The event was received with overwhelming interest – the room was full to standing – and it soon became clear that there was significant support for a UK-based digital rights organisation.

That afternoon, Danny O’Brien created a pledge on PledgeBank, with a deadline of Christmas Day 2005. The pledge read: “I will create a standing order of 5 pounds per month to support an organisation that will campaign for digital rights in the UK, but only if 1,000 other people will too.” The pledge reached 1000 people on 29 November 2005, and ORG started acceptingdonations from its supporters in January 2006.

Meantime, the founding group had recruited Owen Blacker, James Cronin, Louise Ferguson, William Heath, Ben Laurie, Stefan Magdalinski, and Desiree Miloshevic to help shape the organisation. It was incorporated as “Open Rights”, a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, on 3 October 2005. At this point, we were helped by a £3,000 startup grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.

ORG was run on a voluntary basis until early 2006, when Suw Charman resigned from the Board in order to become ORG’s first Executive Director, a part–time position she held until January 2007 when Becky Hogge took the role full–time. Michael Holloway joined the staff as part–time Operations Manager in April 2006, going full time a year later in April 2007.

We now have a Patron, author Neil Gaiman, a twenty-strong Advisory Council which is tasked with helping ORG to form policy and prioritise issues, an eight-strong board of non-executive directors and a volunteer community of over 40 people who actively help in the running of the organisation.

Digital Rights Issues

The Open Rights Group was deliberately set up to have a very wide remit that would cover any issue where digital technologies affect civil liberties, consumer rights or human rights.

Technology moves rapidly and it is essential that ORG be able to respond to unexpected and unpredictable developments. Although ORG is unable to campaign on all the issues that are current at any particular time, our main areas of interest are:

Access to Knowledge

  • Copyright term extension
  • Copyright reform
  • Alternative licensing schemes, such as Creative Commons
  • Digital Rights Management
  • Software patents
  • Crown copyright

Government and Democracy

  • e-Voting
  • Freedom of Information

Privacy, surveillance and censorship

  • National vehicle tracking database
  • NHS databases, including the NHS Data Spine
  • Children’s databases
  • National DNA database
  • Network-level content blocking
  • Data protection, data-sharing, data-crossing

European legislation and treaties

  • Data-retention Directive 2006/24/EC
  • Audio Visual Media Services Directive (was TV Without Frontiers)
  • Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED2)
  • Broadcast Treaty

Achievements in our first two years

The Open Rights Group hit the ground running. From the beginning, we have successfully amplified the concerns of the digital rights community to the media and politicians. Although our successes started small, as we have grown so have they – at a phenomenal rate. We now have several major campaign successes under our belt.

Data retention

Our first campaign was directed against the Data Retention Directive, so-called “anti-terror” legislation being rapidly marched through the European Parliament which would force telcos and ISPs to retain communications traffic data – i.e. information about internet and phone usage – and make it available to a wide range of government authorities. We joined an already-strong movement against Data Retention, co-ordinated by European Digital Rights (EDRi), a coalition of 28 groups from across Europe concerned with protecting privacy and civil rights in the information society, which argued that the sweeping retention of such data was equivalent to mass surveillance.

In November 2005, the then-newly-formed Creative and Media Business Alliance attempted to co-opt the directive, demanding that the EU allow the music industry to access internet traffic data in order that they might more easily prosecute illegal fire-sharers. The Open Rights Group protested at this function creep and our comments were widely reported.

Digital Rights Management

In 2006, we continued fighting the excesses of the recording industry, focusing in January and February on the problems with DRM and the way that it was being used to limit the public’s rights under copyright law and limit reasonable use of legitimately purchased material, like music, books and movies. We prepared a written response to the Public Inquiry into Digital Rights Management run by the All Party Internet Group (APIG) and were called to give oral evidence at the Houses of Parliament. APIG’s final report reflected many of ORG’s concerns. Again, extensive media liaison meant many opportunities for ORG to balance out a debate which had previously been heavily biased in favour of the recording industry’s viewpoint and coverage of ORG’s view of the DRM issue was widespread.

Gowers Review and copyright term extension

ORG then turned its focus to the issue of copyright term extension – the proposal by the music industry that the term of copyright protection given to sound recordings should be extended from the current 50 years, to 75, 90 or life. There is no evidence that extending the term of copyright protection afforded to sound recordings would provide any economic benefits and a lot of evidence to the contrary. But because a handful of valuable recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, such as tracks by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and The Beatles, will start to move into the public domain over the next few years, the recording industry had been pushing to retain control by extending copyright.

Funded by a £5,000 grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, we launched a website focusing on the specific issue of Term Extension: We commissioned a background paper on the issue, organised briefings for MPs and their staff, organised a briefing for journalists and held a public debate. The public debate, which brought representatives of the recording industry and trade press who were in favour of an extension together with a lawyer and musician who were against it, was attended by over 100 people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Our campaigning on copyright term extension was incredibly successful, not only from the point of view of extending the public debate on the issue and involving more people in the Government’s consultation process, but also because our evidence helped the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property conclude that extension to the term of copyright on sound recordings was not an economically sound proposition.

Whether copyright should be extended was justone question raised by the Gowers Review. The Open Rights Group provided an online arena for the public to comment on the Gowers Review Call for Evidence and researched and wrote a response which was submitted as evidence. The Gowers Review largely agreed with ORG’s position on the issues about which we gave evidence and made a number of recommendations regarding the development and reform of the UK’s intellectual property framework.

The Government accepted the Gowers Review in full and many of the recommendations are now being acted upon. ORG started one of the first petitions on the official Prime Minister’s e-petition site, reiterating the Review’s call for a new exception to copyright law that would provide a right to private copy for personal use. 3,300 signatures were gathered – an affirmation of the Government’s commitment to the private copying exception for format-shifting suggested in the Gowers Review. Many of the Review’s recommendations went beyond what

ORG had hoped for and it is an ongoing challenge for ORG to follow these recommendations as they go through the legislative process. In May 2007, the House of Commons’ Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport produced a poorly-informed report that recommended copyright term extension, despite the compelling evidence that such a move would harm consumers and bring no benefit to the majority of recording artists. ORG continued to campaign on the issue and, in July, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport responded to the Culture Committee, rejecting their recommendation and reiterating the Government’s support for the results of the Gowers Review.

Electronic voting and electronic counting

Towards the end of 2006, we added electronic voting (e-voting) to the group of issues we were actively campaigning on. The Government had announced that 2007’s English local elections would include a number of trials of e-voting and e-counting. In Scotland, all votes in the May 2007 local and regional elections would be counted electronically. ORG is fundamentally opposed to e-voting, because electronic voting and counting are “black box” operations – there is no way to verify that the data that enters the system is correctly processed and that the results provided at the end are an accurate representation of voter intention.

In collaboration with the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR), ORG organised three events for e-voting activists during early February, comprising a workshop, a debate and a screening of HBO’s documentary Hacking Democracy. The events drew in activists from around Europe and served as a learning exercise for ORG’s subsequent campaign, funded in part by a generous grant of £23,950 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.

ORG co-opted Jason Kitcat, a long-standing e-voting campaigner, to its ranks. Kitcat worked closely with the Electoral Commission to negotiate official Election Observer status for ORG volunteers, allowing teams to attend polling stations and watch proceedings. In all, 25 people devoted a day to democracy, committing to observing as much of the election as they were allowed to witness, and reporting their findings back to ORG. ORG provided them with full instructions on how to carry out their Election Observer duties, what to look for and how to deal with any problems with the observation mission.

Reports from the observers were combined with the results of a number of Freedom of Information requests in a 60-page report. ORG declared that, given the problems its team had observed on election day, it could not declare confidence in the results for the areas monitored. The report recommended that no further e-voting or e-counting trials take place until a step change in reliability, integrity and transparency had occurred.

The report was launched at a well-attended Westminster event on 20 June 2007. Copies were given to MPs, civil servants and other stakeholders, including the Electoral Commission, who fed ORG’s findings in to their own statutory reports for Scotland and England. The findings of the report were raised in the House of Lords.

The Electoral Commission, in its official evaluation of the 3 May elections recommended that no further e-voting pilots take place until a robust and publicly scrutinised strategy has been established. Although the Commission’s report did not fully recognise the fundamental challenges posed by using computers in elections, it did recommend that security risks be taken much more seriously.

The Electoral Commission joined ORG on a tour around the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative PartyAutumn conferences to raise awareness about the issues surrounding e-voting among grassroots party members. The events, entitled “Should We Trust Electronic Elections?”, went down well among the target audience and also served to raise ORG’s general profile.

Bedding into the grassroots

During all this time, ORG has also focused on its less-public missions to work with other digital rights organisations. We have formed working relationships with organisations across the UK and Europe, as well as in the USA:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation


The Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR)

European Digital Rights (EDRi)

Action on Rights for Children (ARCH)

ORG has nurtured a vibrant grassroots digital rights community in the UK, giving people the opportunity to act on the issues that are important to them and assisting them when they need help making their voices heard. We have held numerous events, including two networking evenings, an ORG party and several visits to Hyde Park, where activists could choose to take the stand at Speakers’ Corner.

Our volunteers have come to form a central part of the work we do. They pitch in with the day-to-day running of the organisation – running our website and blog, maintaining our wiki of campaign resources, spreading the word about supporting ORG and lending their skills wherever they can. They have also helped us form ORG policy, through their contribution to the vibrant ORG-discuss mailing list – a list with over 260 members where news is shared, issues debated and technology discussed – and more recently, through their contributions to our consultation responses using our interactive consultation tool.

Creating tools for future campaigners

All information published by ORG on the site and contributed by volunteers to the wiki is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Licence, which means that it can be reused by anyone without the requirement to ask permissions, so long as they republish under the same licence and attribute ORG as the source. As well as amassing significant amounts of information on the special interests of Members of Parliament, we have developed a series of how-to guides for individuals and campaign organisations.

Getting voices heard

In addition to the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property and the APIG Public Inquiry into Digital Rights Management, ORG has submitted evidence to:

  • The European Commission’s Public Consultation on Content Online in the Single Market
  • The Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ Forensic use of Bioinformation: Ethical Issues
  • The Department of Constitutional Affairs’ Freedom of Information Consultation
  • The BBC Trust’s BBC On-Demand Services Consultation
  • The Government’s Health Committee Consultation on the Electronic Patient Record and its Use (in association with FIPR)
  • Ofcom’s consultation A new approach to public service content in the digital media age (in association with the Open Knowledge Foundation Network and Free Culture UK)
  • The UK Intellectual Property Office’s Consultation on Proposed EU Directive oncriminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rightsb (IPRED 2) (in association with the EFF)
  • The House of Lords’ Select Committee on the Constitution consultation Impact of Surveillance and Data Collection upon the Privacy of Citizens and their Relationship with the State
  • The Cabinet Office’s Effective Consultation review
  • The Information Commissioner’s Office’s Data Protection Strategy Consultation

All of these documents were developed collaboratively on the ORG wiki. Records of these deliberations and the final submissions are available at

Working with the media

ORG has now been accepted as a trusted media commentator. Our rapid success in putting across an informed, independent, technical viewpoint only goes to show how much this was lacking before our birth as an organisation. ORG’s views on issues as diverse as privacy, e-voting, DRM and personal security online have been sought, published and broadcast by major national and international media since the day we were founded. A selection of these publications follow – for a more comprehensive list, visit our archive of press coverage, maintained at

  • BBC News 24
  • BBC One News at One
  • BBC Radio One
  • BBC Radio Five Live
  • BBC Radio Four
  • BBC World Service
  • Daily Mail
  • Financial Times
  • Guardian
  • Independent on Sunday
  • International Herald Tribune
  • New Scientist
  • New Statesman
  • New York Times
  • The Register
  • The Times
  • Washington Post
  • ZDNet

The year ahead

Over the next year ORG will focus on consolidating its position within the digital rights landscape as a reliable evidence-based campaigning group, and on expanding its supporter base and services to the public.

New issues

Over the coming year, ORG will seek opportunities to continue to inform policy makers and public discourse effectively and offer vital clear evidence to those who need to understand the effects of technology on civic life.

As well as ensuring the continued impact of our campaigns to date, we will build up our work on the other relevant campaign issues that have been identified by our 20-strong Advisory Council. Many of these issues relate to the way government chooses to regulate the Internet and the effects that has on free expression: network-level content-blocking, the enforced disclosure of cryptographic keys, the criminalisation of intellectual property infringement.

Others relate to individual privacy in the face of rapid technological advancement: the National Vehicle Tracking Database, the UK police DNA Database, the NHS Data Spine and, more generally, government data-sharing and data protection policies and the role of the Information Commissioner.

There are two specific future projects on the horizon. ORG has been approached to work with creative agency 01zero-one and the London Development Agency to create a set of training materials for creative industry executives hoping to build businesses around permissive and open handling of intellectual property assets; this project will continue into 2008. ORG has also been approached as a potential partner by a consortium of lawyers and academics wishing to roll out a UK-based version of the free speech monitor Chilling Effects. We will pursue this opportunity into 2008.

Building the organisation

Over the last two years, ORG has built up a reputation for level-headed thinking and quality campaigning. We will work hard to maintain this reputation and to continue working on digital rights issues in a responsible manner that puts public benefit at the forefront of our campaigns.

ORG will work as quickly and effectively as possible. We’re determined for the organisation to be sustainable for as long as it is needed; this might mean decades. Our vision is one of a grassroots organisation with sufficient income from the community it serves to cover core costs and basic advocacy work. But, although ORG has punched above its weight on digital rights issues for the past year, we still lack the vital infrastructure that will ensure our future.

Our aim in 2008 is to increase our supporter figures to a level that will sustain our core costs. Although 1,000 people signed the original ORG pledge, so far we have received funds from around 800 individuals in our two-year history and around 565 people are currently supporting ORG on a regular basis. We understand that there may be those who pledged or supported who have since reconsidered their decision; but we believe there are many more who have lost touch with the organisation and who would renew their support if we got back in touch. Further, we think there are a lot more people out there who would like to support ORG, but who are, as yet, unaware of our work.

By the end of 2008, we want to have 1,500 paying supporters. This community will support two staff members, office facilities and other core overheads. We will achieve this growth through three streams of activity:

Developing our information infrastructure: We are currently developing the tools necessary to manage efficiently the information available to us about our supporters. As a grassroots technology organisation, we believe we should be taking advantage of new Web technologies to encourage coordinated activity on the edges of our supporter network. We want to manage our own supporter information efficiently, to good effect, and in an exemplary manner with regard to our supporters’ dignity and rights.

Developing our communications strategy: Being able to communicate effectively with supporters and stakeholders will secure ORG’s future. We need to invest now in eye-catching and relevant promotional materials for ORG and in training for ORG staff and volunteers to help them effectively communicate to the media.

Building our community: ORG has attracted criticism from current supporters for being too London-centric. We want to stimulate regional activity and provide resources to develop local groups. We believe this will not only increase the reach of our organisation, it will attract new supporters.

We have been awarded £20,000 over one year by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd to help us achieve these goals. A further £10,000 could be awarded at the end of the year in “matched funds”, should we achieve the same amount of new funding from our supporters – that means that any new contributions in coming months will be worth double.

How you can help ORG

ORG is its supporters. The central team’s role is to spot the best opportunities to put our collective intention and use our resources to best effect. Without a solid foundation of people willing to support ORG financially and take on volunteer work, ORG would not be able to carry out the day-to-day activities that support its mission. More importantly, it is ORG’s supporters who, by donating their money and time, also lend us their strength – as an organisation ORG has more weight because of the fact that so many people are willing to dig into their own pockets to support us.

There are two main ways you can help:

  • Support ORG
  • Volunteer

Support ORG

We accept one-off donations but it is the regular donations from our supporters that keep ORG ticking. Most ORG supporters pay between £5 and £10 each month but some give more. The best way to support ORG is through a monthly standing order, which you can set up via the ORG website.

If you’re already supporting ORG financially, you can help us by letting your friends and colleagues know why they should be too. We also accept donations in kind – over the last two years supporters have donated office space, computer hardware, raffle prizes and much, much more. If you’ve got something you think we could use, email michael AT openrightsgroup DOT org


The Open Rights Group depends upon the work of expert volunteers. Whether you have technical or design skills that we can make use of, whether you have expertise you can share, or whether you just have enough time to write to your MP on a subject that vexes you, your involvement is essential. We support volunteers either to work remotely, from wherever they are in the country, or to come work with the staff in our physical office.

ORG needs your time and your voice. If you’re interested, email michael AT openrightsgroup DOT org

Financial Report

Treasurer’s statement

In this section of our annual report I will explain the various sources of funding which ORG has received during its first financial year and although our formal accounts for the current financial year are yet to be compiled, provide some highlights of our progress since.

It is our intention to be a transparent and open organisation and to that aim we voluntarily publish a level of detail consistent with best practice guidelines for voluntary sector organisations which is considerably in excess of our statutory obligations. If after reading this statement and report you have any questions or feedback I and the rest of the board would be very pleased to hear from you so that we can make any changes necessary in advance of next years’ annual report.

The Open Rights Group’s financial model of small, but regular donations from a wide base of individual supporters was enshrined in the original Pledge that many of you signed in late 2005. It is the realisation of a large proportion of that promise into a predictable and regular funding stream that has allowed ORG, much faster than many other start-up organisations, quickly to become operational and achieve the significant campaigning and research results that our first two years of operations have seen.

During its first financial year, individual Open Rights Group supporters like you gave in total over £19,000 towards the running of the organisation; without this support, ORG could never have hoped to achieve what it did in its first year. We are also very grateful to the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, whose grant of just under £3,000 in the first months of our existence helped the organisation establish the infrastructure necessary to receive donations and allowed us to operate while we waited for supporters and their banks to set up their standing orders.

What follows is an account of our income and expenditure from the date of our incorporation to 31 October 2006. These accounts were filed with Companies House in September this year. Our next set of accounts, for the period 31 October 2006 – 31 October 2007 will be filed with Companies House by 3 August 2008.

This financial year (1 November 2006 – 31 October 2007), we have received over £35,000 in supporter subscriptions, an astonishing amount which reflects our community’s determination to make ORG a success. The cost of receiving these donations has not, however, been negligible. We are working at the moment to reduce the transaction processing costs that we have to bear for some payment methods so that more of your money can go towards funding ORG. Currently these costs represent approximately £1,000 per year.

This financial year we have also benefited from further grant support from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd. In late November 2006, JRRT Ltd granted £5,000 towards our “Release the Music” campaign and in April 2007 JRRT Ltd granted £23,950 towards our campaign to raise awareness about the issues surrounding electronic voting. JRRT Ltd has recognised the important challenges that new digital technologies can present to civil liberties and the role that ORG can play in raising public awareness of these challenges and threats.

This month, we have succeeded in attracting two further funding awards, which will be recognised in our accounts for the financial year 2007-2008. In partnership with 01zero-one, we have been granted £25,000 by the London Development Agency to deliver a set of course materials based around open intellectual property models for creative business. Also JRRT Ltd have granted us £20,000 – plus £10,000 in matched funds – to put towards building the Open Rights Group into a sustainable, robust organisation able to have the beneficial impact on public discourse of which we have already proved capable, for decades to come.

From its inception, ORG has been dedicated to becoming an organisation that is financially sustained by its supporters and our target is to have 1,500 paying supporters by the end of next year, which will allow us to meet this goal.

On behalf of the Board

James Cronin Acting Treasurer, Open Rights Group

To read the accounts of the Open Rights Group from 3 October 2005 – 31 October 2006, please download the full Review of Activities.


Income and expenditure for period 3 October 2005 – 31 October 2006
Notes £
Subscriptions 2 19,228
Grant from Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd. 2,958
Donations 129
Interest Receivable 111
Consultancy Fees
Executive Director 7,000
Operations Manager 3,076
Professional Fees 2,000
Campaign event 1,540
Service providers 575
Travel and Subsistence 773
Other overheads 301
Bank charges 1,020
THE PERIOD 3 £6,141

Balance Sheet at 31 October 2006
Accounts (continued)
Notes £
Current Assets
Balances at Banks 22,139
Creditors: Amounts due within one
Subscriptions received in advance 2 13,998
Other Creditors 2,000
Net Current Assets 6,141
Net Assets 6,141
Represented by
Accumulated Fund
Surplus of income over expenditure
for the year per the Income and
Expenditure Account
The directors are satisfied that the company is entitled to exemption under Section 249A(1) of the Companies Act 1985 and that no member or members have requested an audit pursuant to Section 249B(2) of the Act.
The directors acknowledge their responsibilities for:
(i) ensuring that the company keeps proper accounting records which comply with Section 221 of the Companies Act 1985; and
(ii) preparing accounts which give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the company as at the end of the financial year and of its profit or loss for the financial year in accordance with the requirements of Section 226 of the Companies Act 1985, and which otherwise comply with the requirements of this Act relating to accounts so far as applicable to the company.

On behalf of the Board
James Cronin
Acting Treasurer, Open Rights Group

Notes to the Accounts for the period ended 31 October 2006

1 Accounting policies
The accounts have been prepared under the historical cost convention and in accordance with the Finance Reporting Standard for Smaller Entities (effective January 2005)
2 Subscriptions
Each annual subscription is banked on receipt and the benefit is credited to
income in equal amounts over the ensuing year. At 31 October 2006 subscriptions totalling £13,998 had been deferred and were included in creditors.
3 Surplus income and the Accumulated Fund
As a not-for-profit company, all income is dedicated to its object of raising
general awareness of digital rights matters and is credited to an accumulated fund to be used for future projects. As a company limited by guarantee and without share capital, income cannot be distributed to shareholders.
4 Corporation Tax
It is our understanding that corporation tax is not payable by Open Rights as it is a not-for-profit company.

Independent Examiner’s Report

Independent Examiner’s report to the Board of Directors of Open Rights for the period from 3 October 2005 to 31 October 2006
I report on the accounts of Open Rights for the period ended 31 October 2006.
Respective responsibilities of the directors and the examiner
The board of directors consider that an audit is not required and that an independent examination is needed. It is my responsibility to issue this report on its accounts.
Basis of independent examiner’s report
My examination included a review of the accounting records kept by the company and a comparison of the financial statements with those records. It also included considering any unusual items or disclosures in the financial statements and seeking explanations from you as directors concerning any such matters. The procedures undertaken do not provide all the evidence that would be required in an audit and consequently I do not express an audit opinion on the view given by the accounts.
Independent examiner’s statements
In connection with my examination, no matter has come to my attention:

  1. which gives me reasonable cause to believe that in any material respect the directors have
    not met the requirements to ensure that:
    • proper accounting records are kept, and
    • accounts are prepared which accord with the accounting records and comply with the accounting requirements of the Act; or
  2. to which, in my opinion, attention should be drawn in order to enable a proper understanding of the accounts to be reached.
    GAP Leigh Pollit, FCA
    The Old Post Office
    Stoke by Nayland
    27 September 2007

Appendix I: ORG people

Appendix I: ORG people

ORG Patron

  • Neil Gaiman, author

ORG Advisory Council

  • Owen Blacker (NO2ID, mySociety,
  • Nick Bohm (The Law Society, FIPR)
  • Ian Brown (Oxford Internet Institute, NO2ID, FIPR, Privacy International, Creative Commons UK, European Digital Rights)
  • John Buckman (Creative Commons, Magnatune, Bookmooch)
  • Richard Clayton (University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, FIPR)
  • Tom Coates (Yahoo!, BBC)
  • Alan Cox (Developer: Linux, FIPR)
  • Grahame Davies (Demon Internet, Easynet, LINX)
  • Cory Doctorow (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, BoingBoing, author)
  • Lilian Edwards (The Institute for Law and the Web, University of Southampton)
  • Wendy Grossman (Guardian, Daily Telegraph, ZDNet, The Inquirer, The Register)
  • Ben Hammersley (The Times, Guardian, Observer)
  • Paula le Dieu (BBC, Creative Commons International, Magic Lantern)
  • Stef Magdalinski (, mySociety,,
  • Kevin Marks (Google)
  • Desiree Miloshevic (Afilias, Internet Society)
  • Keith Mitchell (Internet Systems Consortium, UK Network Operators’ Forum)
  • David Rowntree (Blur)
  • David Weinberger (Berkman Centre for Internet and Society)
  • Jonathan Zittrain (Oxford Internet Institute, Harvard Law School)

ORG Board of Directors (present)

  • Suw Charman, March 2007–present (social software consultant, former Executive Director of ORG)
  • James Cronin, Company Secretary, October 2005-present and Acting Treasurer, June 2007–present (BBC, NO2ID,, mySociety,, Venda Ltd, Paul A Young Fine Chocolates)
  • Louise Ferguson, Chair, October 2005–present (Usability Professionals’ Association, Design for Democracy)
  • David Harris, October 2007–present (IT and IP barrister)
  • William Heath, Vice-Chair, December 2005–present (Kable, FIPR)
  • Ben Laurie, December 2005–present (The Bunker, The Apache Software Foundation, OpenSSL, Google)
  • Dan McQuillan, October 2007–present (Multikulti, Amnesty International)
  • Danny O’Brien, December 2005–present (Electronic Frontier Foundation,, Need-to-Know)
  • Rufus Pollock, December 2005–present (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, Open Knowledge Foundation, Creative Commons UK, Free Culture UK)
  • Vijay Sodiwala, October 2007–present (BSkyB, News International, Tiscali, Video Networks)

ORG Board of Directors (past)

  • Ian Brown, Treasurer, December 2005–June 2007
  • Stefan Magdalinski, October 2005–October 2006

ORG Staff

  • Suw Charman: Executive Director, January 2006–January 2007
  • Becky Hogge: Executive Director, January 2007–present
  • Michael Holloway: Operations Manager, April 2006–present
  • Jason Kitcat: E-voting campaign coordinator, April 2007–September 2007

With EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS to ORG’s amazing volunteers Adam Giles; Adam McGreggor; Alistair Alexander; Anthony Quinn; Austin Chamberlain; Chris Mear; Chad Nelson; Chris Adams; Chris Waigl; Chris Wilson; David Goodman; David Thomson; Denise Wilton; Felix Cohen; Glyn Wintle; Howard Burdett; James Casbon; James Heaver; Jonathan Baker-Bates; Jonathan Hogg; Jordan Hatcher; Lemon; Marc Hankins; Mark Levitt; Martin Taylor; Mat Booth; Mike Little; Neil Holmes; Norman Gray; Philip Nicholls; Richard Cain; Richard King; Robin Fisher; Ryan Alexander; Sam Smith; Sheila Thomson; Simon Temple; Stephen Bridges; Steven Murdoch; Tim Cowlishaw; Tony Kennick

And with many thanks to Venda Ltd for the rent-free use of office space, the endless free cups of coffee and the free use of meeting and conference facilities within which to bring all these wonderful people together.

Appendix II: Company information

Company number: 5581537 Registered in England and Wales

Registered Office: Open Rights 12 Duke’s Road London WC1H 9AD

Office Address:Independent Examiner: GAP Leigh-Pollitt Chartered Accountant The Old Post Office Stoke by Nayland Suffolk CO6 4SA

Bankers: Cooperative Bank plc PO Box 101 1 Balloon Street Manchester M60 4EP

Appendix III: ORG publications

All Open Rights Group publications are published under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5 licence.

Electronic voting: A challenge to democracy? (January 2007)

Electronic voting: A challenge to democracy? (January 2007)

May 2007 Elections Report (June 2007)

Release the Music briefing pack (updated August 2007)