The Web, as it exists today, is a complex mixture of open, public areas and closed, private zones. There are prominent advocates of both positions: those that maintain that the Web must be based on open platforms; those that argue that property rights provide the strongest incentive for innovation in the Web. There has been little systematic and coherent research to resolve these positions. That research must be interdisciplinary. From a technical computing perspective, we need to know exactly what is meant by “openness”. How can legal frameworks be constructed to deal with openness on the Web? Is openness necessary for innovation, or are private and commercial incentives more effective? Is openness compatible with the security requirements of e.g., e-health applications? Economic and legal issues predominate when we examine the open Web, and there are important questions of balance for proprietary Web development organisations. When is it important to release intellectual property to build a user base, and when should a more restrictive business model come into place? These are central issues for those concerned with providing software services and content on the Web.
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