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Communia workshop "Ethical Public Domain: Debate of Questionable Practices"

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  • Samwel Kongere
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 7, 2008
      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!
      Call me,
      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@...
      ------------ --------- ------

      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 “all for one and one
      for all”.

      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,
      Séverine Dusollier spoke of a “positively defined Public Domain” to great

      I authored the invitation to our Spring 2008 workshop to show how far this
      process might go.

      “The 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.”

      My goal was to encourage citizens inside and outside corporations to
      engage each other and cultivate standards for behavior, both ethical and

      “We 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
      Public Domain?
      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?

      “We welcome all questions that help us explore how we might share creative
      works as co-creators and support a vibrant commons.”

      I structured the debates so that they would be as simple, constructive and
      inclusive as possible:

      “Ten 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:”
      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.

      “Debaters 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.”

      I wasn't able to build any bridges across “the corporate wall”. 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
      first step.

      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 “Public Domain except where
      content explicitly notes otherwise”.

      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 “no rights
      reserved”, 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 “Yes”, 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
      constructive controversy.

      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 “OK to Copy Offline” 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, “Bring us an issue that you care about, and we can relate it to
      the Public Domain.” 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 “digital” 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 Danutė Vervečkienė, a
      mother and school teacher from the village of Eičiūnai. Sixteen-year- old
      Ieva Anušauskaitė sagely mediated all sides.

      I read (and translated) Jolita Malinauskaitė'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.
      Eičiūnai 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 Anušauskas 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!

      Andrius Kulikauskas

      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      http://www.ms. lt
      +1 312 618 3345

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