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Opening spread of Flipside feature on Vancouver Olympic GamesWhen the first snowboarder catches air and turns in the half pipe cut into the side of a Canadian mountain in February's Winter Olympic Games, the obstacle between them and a gold medal is a row of human judges. But the day is coming when machines will be able to decide whether the move was good, or the athlete fluffed it.

For the past 70 years, the Olympic organisers have slowly brought more and more technology to try to make sure the gold medal goes to the right person.

It used to be so simple. In the 1930s, a technician from the Swiss watchmaker Omega turned up with 27 stopwatches that had to be used for all the Games. To time the cross-country skiing event, judges had to synchronise two timers and then send one of the judges off on their skis to the start line to write down the time each contestant started off.

A wave of revulsion against a law that targets filesharers has swept the Pirate party into a seat at the European parliament.

Not even in existence when the last European elections took place, the Pirate party managed to secure 7% of the national vote in Sweden, beating the country's Eurosceptic party, June List, which suffered a collapse in its vote.

Two events have taken copyright to the fore in Sweden, which has the highest penetration of high-speed broadband-fibre connections in Europe. In April, the Swedish government brought into force the EU's intellectual property (IP) enforcement directive, which demands that internet service providers turn over traffic data to copyright holders who are trying to track down filesharers. Later that month, a court sentenced The Pirate Bay's owners to a year in jail on top of awarding damages of SKr30m (£2.5m).

Following the case, the Pirate party, which campaigns for patents to be scrapped and copyright to last just five years instead of 70, trebled its membership to more than 45,000.

You can read the rest at the Guardian website.

Blood, water, oil, tobacco

1 November 2003

Geographical dossier spreadAs stock market prices soared in the late 1990s on the back of the technology boom, an unexpected beneficiary of the massive rise in mobile phone sales was a group of Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers fighting the troops of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a link that underlined the growing connection between risks and dangers in the developed and the developing world.