Communia workshop "Ethical Public Domain: Debate of Questionable Practices"
- Hi Andrius,
Although, i did not attend the Vilnius COMMUNIA workshop, I am sure Ken Owino attended on behalf of those of us (Africans) who failed to get Visas for the workshop, I wonder why i can't see his name somewhere? Great thoughts were highlighted; I am working on an individual thinking piece now on easy travels and and social interaction, Why are Africans denied Visas for such great opportunities and so much restriction on travels while even animals have their own Eco-System calender?, In Nature Kenya, even animals have their own calender for movement, the wild beasts migrate to Serengeti Park in Tanzania from Masaai Mara national park in Kenya every year? the animals take four months away and come back to their habitat annually? and this is one of the wonders of the world. Why are we (Africans) put in nutshells without movement to get exposure? Can these and many more be discussed at the public domain ethics?. To me this has denied us exposure Socially and Economically? If the travel documents are valid why the restriction, then?
I am all the time thinking, because many "whites" come here and go from here and extend their stays; longer?. We denied opportunities and this is why we are not progressing in development!.
Please!! am free to discuss this anywhere, if there is time? Once, you told me, how you were not allowed to contribute at the summer source, and you spent alone night somewhere; why don't the Public domain ethics you organize fail to address these!!!, if we are all human for humans, as Thomas puts it? Or the Public Domain is a theory not practical?. This can make me think of the 'animal farm' novel I had in my secondary school literature., that all animals are equal except those on two legs!.
I may finish this year thinking and thinking! but no appropriate answers!
ms@... wrote:We're preparing the proceedings for the COMMUNIA Spring 2008 workshop. I
share my introduction. I appreciate our thoughts looking back and looking
ahead. Andrius Kulikauskas, ms@...
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Welcome to all who further our debates by taking up these Proceedings of
Ethical Public Domain: Debates of Questionable Practices, the Spring 2008
workshop of COMMUNIA held March 31, 2008 in Vilnius, Lithuania. COMMUNIA
is the European Union's thematic network for the Public Domain.
As organizer of this workshop, I wish to embolden you, the reader, to
participate with vigor as we did at the workshop. I will clarify the
context so that you may try to read between the lines, note what was said
and unsaid, consider the personal, institutional and global situations,
and appreciate the contribution of every participant. My wish is that you
take up the thought that I and others, and perhaps you as well, do care
about the Public Domain, about that commons for which there is no I or You
or Other. I hope that Melanie Dulong de Rosnay's perspective and the
remarkable dialogue by proponents, opponents, mediators and audience
members will help you rise above opinions and judgments and up to the
heights of principles, an Ethical Public Domain of âall for one and one
In 2007, a team led by Juan Carlos de Martin and Andrea Glorioso of
Politecnico di Torino won three years of funding from the European
Commission to organize COMMUNIA, a forum that meets four times a year to
foster the practice of the Public Domain and a vision that might inform
policy throughout Europe. To my delight, Juan Carlos and Andrea have
structured and shepherded this forum to allow for the possibility of
fundamental change around the world. At our first meeting in September
2007, I was able to share my thought that the Public Domain is not only a
legal concept, but even more so, a culture and an ethics which might
inform law if we recognized a human right to share. In January 2008,
SÃ©verine Dusollier spoke of a âpositively defined Public Domainâ to great
I authored the invitation to our Spring 2008 workshop to show how far this
process might go.
âThe European Commission is funding the COMMUNIA thematic network for the
Public Domain. A vibrant network may inspire European Union directives to
the member states that they amend their constitutions so that the Public
Domain has primacy over copyright. Imagine a world where creative works
enter the Public Domain by default unless their authors explicitly mark
them as copyrighted; where the creator of a derivative work can copyright
only their own modifications and not the entire work; where the owner of a
derivative work must make available any Public Domain works they use or
their own work falls into the Public Domain; and where non-humans (such as
corporations) are prohibited from owning creative works unless they are
capable of creating them, and prohibited from managing creative works
unless they show a moral sense of fair use that allows for more gray than
black or white.â
My goal was to encourage citizens inside and outside corporations to
engage each other and cultivate standards for behavior, both ethical and
âWe can create a world that favors the Public Domain if we engage each
other as concerned citizens in thoughtful discourse. Our workshop is a
series of friendly debates by which we engage those whose practices we
How can Google scrape so many websites and yet have Terms of Services
which prevent others from scraping its own website?
Why is there no market for used Microsoft software?
Why is Flickr set up for use with Creative Commons licenses but not the
Why does Wikipedia use the eight-page GNU FDL license which must be
included in any excerpt?
Why does Creative Commons define Public Domain as "no rights reserved"
rather than "all use encouraged"?
Why is the European Commission ready to extend the term of protection for
related rights in sound recordings from 50 years to 95 years?
Why does the COMMUNIA website use a Share Alike license which clashes with
the Public Domain?
Why is Minciu Sodas inviting corporations to sponsor debates like these?
âWe welcome all questions that help us explore how we might share creative
works as co-creators and support a vibrant commons.â
I structured the debates so that they would be as simple, constructive and
inclusive as possible:
âTen half-hour debates will take place from 10:00 to 15:00 at the ELTA
news agency press conference center, Gedimino 21/2, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Each debate will include:â
a 5 minute critique of a practice that hurts the Public Domain
a 5 minute defense of that practice
10 minutes of contributions from the audience
5 minutes of mediation.
âDebaters can present their arguments themselves in Vilnius, or ask
somebody to present on their behalf, especially if they are not able to
attend. Remote participants will also be included by video bridge.â
I wasn't able to build any bridges across âthe corporate wallâ. The
challenge is great and it was optimistic, as usual, for me to think
otherwise. I was quick to offer that my Minciu Sodas laboratory organize
the Spring 2008 workshop, the first outside Torino. It will take more
time, though, to develop the relationships with corporate citizens. I do
have hope for the future and wish to support such efforts. Our workshop
was a show of good will and an informative experiment. We have taken a
Next time (and I hope there is a next time!) I would like to receive more
statements from activists. We so often hear complaints, but who is
willing to voice them? and to hear out the other side and seek a
solution? I wish also that academics find ways, large and small, to
participate as active citizens. Must those who are most educated be
allergic to controversy? Thank you to all who came to our workshop where
I hope that we were all as uncomfortable (or not) as each might wish!
I was touched by the participation of ordinary citizens from around the
world, many of them independent thinkers active at Minciu Sodas, for whom
this was a rare occasion to meet, as they generally interact online. They
were actually not so ordinary, indeed they are extraordinary given their
work in January and February to organize a Pyramid of Peace of online and
offline peacemakers to avert genocide in Kenya. They were also familiar
with the Public Domain because, since 1998, all of the Minciu Sodas venues
(discussion groups, wikis, chats) have been âPublic Domain except where
content explicitly notes otherwiseâ.
Thank you to Pamela McLean, Maria Agnese Giraudo, Theresa Bakalarz, Eric
Wanjamah, Markus Petz, Irena Buinickaite, Birute Railiene and all who
helped us prepare the materials for the conference. Each proponent
submitted a one-page statement which we distributed for all to read. Thank
you also to Maria Teresa Medina Quintana for registering our participants.
I organized the schedule so that we started with the topics most obviously
relevant to COMMUNIA's mission, then expanded beyond Europe to include
Africans and the developing world, and concluded with topics of local
interest, switching back and forth between English and Lithuanian.
I was the first proponent so that by my example I might share the kind of
debates that I sought. This was my opportunity to state my own
longstanding grievance with Creative Commons, that it promotes a legal
alternative to the Public Domain, and I feel, reduces the Public Domain to
a legal, irrevocable (and thus unreal), negative formulation âno rights
reservedâ, whereas I seek a Public Domain that is culturally vibrant,
commercially viable, socially essential as the domain for our best
creative works and the default for all creative works. I didn't quite say
that so directly. Nor did I say, what I think is evident, that Creative
Commons has made a wonderful impact on our popular understanding of the
Public Domain and concern for copyright issues. I did get my chance to
speak and then my chance to keep quiet and listen, which for me was much
harder! I am very grateful that Prodromos Tsiavos (of Creative Commons
England-Wales) and Tomislav Medek (of Croatian Creative Commons) agreed to
be opponent and mediator. They spoke thoughtfully, but their âYesâ, that
they were willing to participate, was the most important word that I
myself heard, and what I wish for all debaters. Thank you very much to
all of the Creative Commons members who came to meet in Vilnius a day
early, who made sure our event was well attended, and who helped with our
Our proceedings include a summary for each debate, as well as biographies,
the proponent's written statement, excerpts from the debates, and an
occasional afterthought by Thomas Chepaitis, who wrote down our
transcripts based on Zenonas Anusauskas's video footage available at
www.internettv. lt and/or www.communia- project.eu
Didzis Veinbergs launched our second debate with his concerns, as a
publisher, regarding the publishing of Public Domain works.
Andras Galamposi's critique of libraries and museums was a model of
Stef van Gompel's commentary on proposed term extensions for sound
recordings was timely and central to COMMUNIA's mission of informing EU
Sasha Mrkailo was the proponent for our fifth debate, which took us
outside of the European Union, both physically and mentally, as he spoke
with us by video bridge from Serbia, thanks to Zenonas Anusauskas, a
villager from Eiciunai who thereby introduced video bridging to the ELTA
news agency, as he has to Vilnius city hall and Lithuania's parliament.
Sasha was unable to get a visa to attend the workshop because Lithuania
has no embassy in Serbia and invitations can't be made through other
European embassies. We encountered even greater obstacles inviting
participants from Kenya and Uganda. Miraculously, after we had given up
our efforts, the Nafsi Afrika Acrobats received visas to Norway and Frida
Thorsen of Norwegian television very kindly accomodated their travel so
they might attend our workshop, and indeed, make performances in the
village of Eiciunai, the independence day festival of the Uzupis Republic,
a school for the deaf in Panevezys (thanks to Odeta Abromaviciute) , and on
Lithuanian television, everywhere spreading the creative energy that they
also exhibited as peacemakers. Sasha proposed that creative genius in
Africa might be unleashed by placing old textbooks in the Public Domain.
Simon Murira of the Nafsi Afrika Acrobats countered that Africans need
access to the best and latest information.
Maria Agnese Giraudo, a research librarian, gave a thorough critique of
our current system of copyright and the North-South divide which it
exacerbates. We paired her statement with that of Ricardo Sanchez, who
suggested a practical step of devising a logo âOK to Copy Offlineâ for
websites to indicate that they can be transported offline just as they are
Eric Wanjamah, a Kenyan student in Sweden, read his statement about
historical injustices in Kenya. The lively discussion diverged from his
point for the need for information that affects public opinion to be in
the Public Domain. And yet it touched on fundamental assumptions, such as
whether we need to be attached to our land, or mark our lands with
boundaries, that can determine what we mean by a commons or the Public
Domain. When I encouraged people to send statements for our workshop, I
insisted, âBring us an issue that you care about, and we can relate it to
the Public Domain.â I am encouraged that indeed this is so. Any issue or
complaint asks for a social resolution of personal interests, and any such
resolution needs and generally comes from a shared social space, a public
forum. In this sense, I believe that every debate is, at heart, a debate
about the Public Domain, and can be resolved by a healthy Public Domain.
Job Ngugi read the statement by Fred Kayiwa of Uganda who could not get a
visa. Fred is a profoundly active social networker who is perhaps the
most âdigitalâ of any of us. What issue can he bring to us, being so
removed from us, having no experience of Europe or much of the context for
COMMUNIA? Yet he voices a fundamental perspective for the future of the
Public Domain. Fred asks, why don't youth represent youth? This question
makes it seem so strange that copyright laws are informed by corporations
which profit from children, but not by the children themselves, nor the
natural way in which they copy as part of their creativity. We may
consider, how could we arrive at this arguably central issue without
including Fred's point of view?
Fred's statement was enthusiastically opposed by DanutÄ VerveÄkienÄ, a
mother and school teacher from the village of EiÄiÅ«nai. Sixteen-year- old
Ieva AnuÅ¡auskaitÄ sagely mediated all sides.
I read (and translated) Jolita MalinauskaitÄ's complaint about plagiarism
by Lithuania's students and teachers. This was our ninth and last debate.
Thank you to Markus Petz who volunteered that we skip over his debate so
that we might stay within our schedule. We include his statement along
with two others that we received from Karl Fogel and Ricardo Sanchez.
After our press conference, we gathered at the Neringa Restaurant, a
creative haven during the long Soviet-occupation, as we learned from
Thomas Chepaitis, foreign minister of the Uzhupis Republic, a neighborhood
of Vilnius. After dinner, we enjoyed old and new folk traditions.
EiÄiÅ«nai villagers sang for us old songs of true love. Nafsi Afrika
Acrobats soared in ways that only a young boy or girl might dream
possible. Thank you to all of our superheroes!
...but especially to Juan Carlos de Martin, for your will that we succeed,
to Irena Buinickaite, Thomas Chepaitis, Zenonas AnuÅ¡auskas and all of our
team in Lithuania.
Thank you most of all to you, our reader, who will take the next step so
that we might enjoy an Ethical Public Domain!
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