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Rufus Pollock

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Rufus Pollock
Pollock in 2017
Born1980 (age 43–44)
Alma mater
Scientific career
ThesisShould We Give Every Cow Its Calf? Monopoly, Competition and Transaction Costs in the Promotion of Innovation and Creativity (2008)
Doctoral advisor

Rufus Pollock (born 1980) is a British economist, activist and social entrepreneur.

He has been a leading figure in the global open knowledge and open data movements, starting with his founding in 2004 of the non-profit Open Knowledge Foundation which he led until 2015. From 2007–2010 he was the Mead Fellow in Economics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and from 2010–2013 he was a Shuttleworth Foundation fellow.[2][3][4] In 2012 was appointed an Ashoka Fellow[5] and remains an Associate of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge[4] and continues to serve on the board of Open Knowledge International. Since leaving Open Knowledge International, his work has moved to focus more on broader issues of social transformation and in 2016 he co-founded a new non-profit "Life Itself".[6] However, he has continued to work actively on the economics and politics of the information age, including publishing "The Open Revolution: Rewriting the Rules of the Information Age" in 2018.[7]

Whilst at Open Knowledge International he initiated a variety of projects, many of which continue to be active. In 2005 he created The Open Definition which provided the first formal definition of open content and open data, and which has remained the standard reference definition. In 2005–06 he created the first version of CKAN, open source software for finding and sharing datasets, especially open datasets. CKAN has evolved and is the leading open data platform software in the world, used by governments including the US and UK, to publish millions of public datasets.

He helped to lead or co-found other organizations including Open Rights Group (2005, co-founder and board member), Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (2005-6, UK director),[8][9] Creative Commons UK, Datopian (founder) and Life Itself (co-founder).[10]


Pollock's 2018 book

On 24 May 2004 Pollock founded in Cambridge, UK the Open Knowledge Foundation[11][12] as a global non-profit network that promotes and shares open knowledge including open data and open content - information that is openly and freely available.[13]

In 2007 and 2009, Pollock published two important papers regarding the optimal copyright term, where he proposed based on an economical model with empirically-estimable parameters an optimal duration of 15 years, significantly shorter than any currently existing copyright term.[14][15]

He has held the Mead Research Fellowship in economics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.[16]

In 2009, he was credited by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee for starting the Raw Data Now meme.[17]

In 2010 he was appointed as one of the four founding members of the UK Government's Public Sector Transparency Board.[18][19]

In 2018 he published his first book The Open Revolution: Rewriting the Rules of the Information Age, making it openly available for download online.



  1. ^ "Oundle Lecture: The Second Renaissance". Oundle School. 23 June 2023.
  2. ^ "Shuttleworth Fellowship". Rufus Pollock. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  3. ^ "Rufus Pollock ─ Open data, open knowledge". Shuttleworth Foundation. September 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Open Knowledge: Staff". Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Rufus Pollock". ashoka.
  6. ^ "Wise Society · Rufus Pollock Online". rufuspollock.com. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  7. ^ a b "The Open Revolution: Rewriting the rules of the information age".
  8. ^ FFII (4 July 2005). "SMEs call on European Parliament to protect them from software patents". FFII. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  9. ^ FFII (6 July 2005). "European Parliament says no to software patents". FFII. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  10. ^ "People". Life Itself. 9 March 2020. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Open Knowledge Foundation launched". Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  12. ^ Davies, Tim (12 April 2014). "Data, information, knowledge and power – exploring Open Knowledge's new core purpose". Tim's Blog. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Open Knowledge: About". okfn.org. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  14. ^ Rufus Pollock (1 October 2007). "Optimal copyright over time: Technological change and the stock of works" (PDF). University of Cambridge. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2015. The optimal level for copyright has been a matter for extensive debate over the last decade. Using a parsimonious theoretical model this paper contributes several new results of relevance to this debate. In particular we demonstrate that (a) optimal copyright is likely to fall as the production costs of 'originals' decline (for example as a result of digitization) (b) technological change which reduces costs of production may imply a decrease or a decrease in optimal levels of protection (this contrasts with a large number of commentators, particularly in the copyright industries, who have argued that such change necessitates increases in protection) (c) the optimal level of copyright will, in general, fall over time as the stock of work increases.
  15. ^ Rufus Pollock (15 June 2009). "Forever minus a day? Calculating optimal copyright term" (PDF). University of Cambridge. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2015. The optimal term of copyright has been a matter for extensive debate over the last decade. Based on a novel approach we derive an explicit formula which characterises the optimal term as a function of a few key and, most importantly, empirically-estimable parameters. Using existing data on recordings and books we obtain a point estimate of around 15 years for optimal copyright term with a 99% confidence interval extending up to 38 years. This is substantially shorter than any current copyright term and implies that existing terms are too long.
  16. ^ "Mr Rufus Pollock". University of Cambridge. Archived from the original on 8 July 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  17. ^ Tim Berners-Lee. "Credits for Linked Data talk at TED, 2009". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  18. ^ "About". Rufus Pollock. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  19. ^ "Public Sector Transparency Board". GOV.UK. Retrieved 21 February 2015.

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