Tim Berners-Lee. Photo Getty
People using file-sharing websites should be given the
chance to do the right thing and pay for what they're using,
the inventor of the worldwide web says.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee believes internet users should have
access to free information across the board, but they should
also be given the opportunity to make a moral decision and
pay for what they listen to.
He gave a lecture on open internet to a packed theatre of
about 500 in the national museum Te Papa in Wellington last
Sir Tim would not comment on the case being brought against
the founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload, Kim
Dotcom, because he had not been following it.
But he said a system should be created where people choose to
do the right thing.
"I'd like also to have a system where I'm reading blogs or
reading newspaper articles where I'm reading them for free,
but decide at the end of the month that I'd like to give a
certain amount ... like $100 to all the people that the
machine knows I enjoy."
The British-born computer scientist imagined webpages and
created his first one in 1991, after proving computers could
communicate with each other through the internet.
In 1989 Sir Tim wrote a memo about his idea, but it was
ignored for a year before the idea was picked up by his boss.
A decade later, Sir Tim found a note by his boss about his
idea, which said "vague but exciting".
"So if he had said 'exciting but vague' we'd have no
In 2009 Sir Tim began a crusade for "open data" and tried to
convince governments to make data more accessible for people.
"Gordon Brown was the prime minister of the UK at that time
and he just said 'Yep we'll put government data on the web,
let's do it'."
There were three reasons for government data to be accessible
for the public, Sir Tim said.
"One is economic benefit - your country will run much better,
and anybody who is trying to run a business in that country
will find life better ... if they can take government data
about where hospitals are, where all the potholes in the road
are and just use it."
Government transparency was another reason, as well as making
governments interact better.
He warned against companies or governments having any control
over the internet.
"You must not allow governments or companies to twist, to put
a filter, to put pink spectacles over the vision that people
have when they look at the web."
He said the worst thing that governments could use the web
for was to spy on their residents.
"Depending on which country it's in, sometimes they spy on
you in order to target you ... or they could be targeting you
to trace the social network that you're part of and put you
and all your friends in jail and possibly kill you."
Sir Tim said he could never have envisaged 24 years ago the
kinds of things that were now being looked at on the
"The idea was that you should be able to put anything on the
web, the web should not constrain what you should do.
"What has been great has been the amount of creativity. And
that's not because of web technology, it's because of
- Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ