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Open source movement key for Internet growth in India

emerging around the community centre model, as opposed to the individual

dial-up model which dominates the U.S. market.

Along with Esther Dyson, Barlow is co-founder of Bridges.org, a non-profit

organisation geared at stemming the international digital divide.

Freeware and shareware have a key role to play here, he said. People can

make more money through skills and minds via relationships, rather than

through bloated prices for intellectual property.

"In the information age, value is based not on scarcity but on

familiarity," said Barlow.

Addressing concerns over the aftermath of the Black Friday tech market

crash in April and its implications for the Internet economy, Barlow said

the wildly inflated stock valuations were "silly" and that we are now

"thankfully back to doing business with hard work and a reasonable path to

sustainability and profit."

He was particularly critical of the U.S. recording industry in their

efforts to crack down on sites like MP3.com and Napster.com. Barlow drew

parallels to the early days of the video cassette industry, which the

Motion Picture Association of America tried to suppress for five years;

today 70 per cent of the U.S. movie industry revenues comes from video

sales and rentals.

The Grateful Dead, the rock band with whom Barlow was a lyricist for some

time, pioneered a business model where taping was freely allowed in

concerts; the band became much more popular for its live concerts than for

its studio albums.

Barlow cautioned India against getting stuck in the "IPR trap" that the

U.S. entertainment industry was heading into. He also urged Netizens to

actively remove bureaucratic hurdles in the Internet economy.

For instance, it is not possible in India for individuals to register

".co.in" domain names - only organisations can. "I'm sure this is because

the registration process here is controlled by a bunch of old power hungry

academics," Barlow remarked.

Looking ahead down the road, he said that if there is one word to describe

India's future in the Internet Age, it is "hope."

He said the Net must be protected as a medium where nobody can shut out

anyone else, no matter who they are or what they say. "Don't block out hate

and porn - educate, understand, and convince people of choices and

priorities," he urged.

"You can't own free speech. We may be in one of those moments where you can

be utopian and still make sense," Barlow concluded.