Task force/Recommendations/Advocacy 5

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Advocacy against extension of copyright and in favour of a strong public domain.

1. There is much uncertainty about copyright both in general as well as in the wikimedia community. This causes several problems.

  • Sometimes opinions on copyright lead to wikilawyering that demotivate contributors.
  • The view that only the CC-licenses lead to free content shuts of the Wikimedia community from broader discussions on public rights in copyright. This restricts possibilities to collaborate with institutions and efforts to engage in collaborative projects.
  • In Continental-European copyright systems there are limitations that cover similar forms of re-use as are allowed under the fair-use exception. Yet, not many chapters take the risk of accepting an EDP to allow this kind of re-use, for example of making a quote of an image under a low resolution. European chapters can demonstrate their needs to contribute to free content, when working on an inventory of allowed re-use in their legal system. At the same time this inventory can lead to an imput on new copyright legislation at a European level. The need for this new regulation is broadly recognised.

2. Scholars point at the lessons that can be learned from Wikimedia community to regulate collaboration under a free license. An important point made by Jonathan Zittrain in a chapter The lessons of Wikipedia of his book 'The future of the Internet and how to stop it.' is the merit of open negotiations. Starting with the example of the Dutch city of Drachten that uses the concept of a shared space for traffic he leads the reader to the conclusion that more communication occurs when the principle "there are no rules' is applied. (The book is online: http://futureoftheinternet.org/static/ZittrainTheFutureoftheInternet.pdf). Communication can be valued as negotiation over content that enables diverse perspectives and broader participation.

Benkler (The wealth of networks, also available online) identifies a shared set of social norms as a requirement for collaborate peer production. For the wikimedia community a unique twist of personal motivations and shared values is a driving force. This should align with a perspective on legal knowledge dissemination about copyright.

An approach, that builds on the work of James Boyle about the enclosure of the Public Domain ( book available online), to take advocacy on the public domain as a starting point, and to integrate ideas on the use of free licenses with regulation to foster public interests, that are embedded in copyright law.

3. The recommendation is to form alliances with groups that do advocacy for a strong public domain in copyright.

There are elaborated proposals that take the perspective of possibilities for re-use and sharing within copyright law:

  • Somewhat less specific: Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge, Citizens’ and artists’ Human Rights in the digital age http://fcforum.net/

4. This approach would benefit advocacy and outreach, legal risk assessment and internal moderation processes.

Further we think it would be a good strategy for advocacy to work with universities, involved in Open Access and Open Science, and cultural heritage institutions involved in digitisation projects on learning materials based on this perspective.

5. This argumentation also leads to the conclusion that the Wikimedia Foundation should stimulate discussions within chapters to adopt an Exempton Doctrine Policies.

See for the present policy: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Licensing_policy

Example of an Exemption Doctrine Policy for the English Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Non-free_content