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EU Public Domain thematic network

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    The EU s European Commission has issued a call for proposals (due October 19, 2006) to create a Public Domain thematic network. Up to 1 million euros is
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 13, 2006
      The EU's European Commission has issued a call for proposals (due
      October 19, 2006) to create a Public Domain thematic network. Up to 1
      million euros is available. http://europa.eu.int/econtentplus and more
      information below.

      Since 1998, I have organized our Minciu Sodas laboratory
      http://www.ms.lt to deliberately leverage the Public Domain to serve and
      organize independent thinkers. Together we have created more than 15,000
      letters and 3,000 wiki pages. We're starting to reuse this material in
      more and more ways that facilitate our working together. We're also
      realizing that our spaces in the Public Domain filters in those who are
      willing to work openly and share freely and filters out sharkish,
      trollish and other deconstructive behavior. This means that we can
      encourage our participants to invest time, energy, resources in each
      other's growth. I have written about this logic in "An Economy for
      Giving Everything Away" http://www.ms.lt/en/workingopenly/givingaway.html

      I'm writing to encourage us to organize around Roland Alton-Scheidl,
      PUBLIC VOICE Lab & Project Lead
      RegisteredCommons.org, Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences,
      http://www.media.coop/about/ He's leading a workshop for all who would
      like to work together on this proposal. It takes place this Sunday at
      "The Wizards of OS" conference in Berlin
      http://www.media.coop/project/ecplus/ http://del.icio.us/ecplus

      I spoke with Roland today. He and Franz Nahrada know each other quite
      well. Franz leads our lab's working group Global Villages
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/globalvillages/ Roland is a part of
      Franz's video bridge team which is working with telecoms so that they
      offer video bridge equipment free of charge to community centers which
      subscribe to video bridge services. This option can make all the
      difference for spreading this technology and is analogous to the DSL
      companies offering modems free of charge to their subscribers. It also
      lets subscribers use the existing proprietary technology without locking
      them into it so they might switch as open source options arise. And it's
      a ground breaking example of providers serving communities rather than

      Roland is looking for a team of four or five people who might help with
      his proposal. I'm happy to help. Who else? He also asked for help to
      find partners in the various European countries, especially large
      businesses and institutions. Here are some that we can approach right away:
      - Paolo Pumilia in Milan, Italy is the organizer of several Open Content
      conferences http://www.openculture.org with many ties to the academic
      community. He's the one who originally alerted me to the call.
      - Steve Cayzer of Hewlett-Packard Bristol Labs
      http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Steve_Cayzer/ is working on the semantic
      web and is a friend of our lab.
      - Stanko Blatnik is in Slovenia and is interested in distance learning
      and has academic connections.
      - Georg Pleger of Creative Commons Austria
      http://www.creativecommons.at/Members/georgP has been very sympathetic
      and perhaps has more contacts.
      I have some connections in Lithuania's government, perhaps that might be

      But we need bigger connections in order to have a chance of winning. I
      spoke recently with a friendly expert who made it clear that our lab had
      no chance of winning. These projects are typically won by outfits that
      manage thirty or forty of them at a time. They have the whole production
      line ready for this and the calls are usually formulated with them in
      mind. So I'm encouraging us to work openly and rally around Roland and
      all who are willing to put in the work and take the risk. This will
      provide three years of funding for a few organizers and travel for
      partners. And meanwhile it's a good opportunity for us to connect and
      support each other.

      I defer to Roland regarding the content of the proposal. But I share my
      ideas. I would call the proposal and the network "Ethical Public
      Domain". My goal would be to focus our attention on ethics rather than
      legalities. Our work would be to analyze each domain where content is
      generated and considered what is the ethically best way to treat content
      given the relevant issues. And then to make recommendations as to how
      laws should be changed and how to focus on ethical rather than legal
      solutions. And how to integrate different kinds of content in different

      Our assumption would be that people have a basic human right to share.
      Any law which presumes that people don't want to share is in conflict
      with that right. In particular, the laws which assume that we claim
      ownership of our creative works are counter to our right to share and
      thus ethically void. People who want to claim legal protection of their
      creative works ought to be active in marking their content accordingly.
      Otherwise they are infringing on our right to share. By clarifying our
      human rights we would help show where the laws are ethical and where are
      they overstepping.

      For example, as Thomas Kalka noted, one argument against public
      domain software is that supposedly author's are not protected against
      presumed warrantees and associated liability. Well, instead of
      abandoning the public domain, why not clarify if the laws are unethical
      and should be changed?

      I'm also thinking of social networking (people's implicit content) and
      video bridges (most explicit content) as two ends of a spectrum and
      every other kind of content is somewhere in between.

      One idea is to have a video bridge center in every European country and
      have them in other countries so that we could have their input because
      this is a global issue. And to meet through the video bridges as much as
      possible. And perhaps bring them to conferences throughout the year so
      that people throughout Europe and around the world could hook up on this
      issue both online and offline.

      I also think that it could be helpful to focus attention on content that
      is socially meaningful such as a knowledge base for sustainability that
      could use all manner of media. And a social networking system to attract
      such giving people and help them help each other find paid work. Here
      again Public Domain is essential.

      The Public Domain can also have an express ethical component which
      explains what is appropriate behavior under various conditions. For
      example, if you make money from content, then it's appropriate to give
      back to the content creators. But how exactly you do that and who
      exactly you give to isn't so important. And it's not a legal issue.
      Certainly for individuals and small businesses there is no recourse in
      civil law because of the expense and wasted energy and so the law is not
      a solution for the people who matter.

      I think it's also perfectly human to have ethics and laws which allow
      humans to use their best judgement but require institutions with limited
      liability, such as corporations, to be taxed for their use of content.
      Or, for example, it makes sense to have patents which allow humans
      unrestricted use but require corporations to negotiate with the patent

      I think it's important to think of the Public Domain in a practical way
      and not make a legal parody of it. In practice, people can and do change
      their mind as to whether their work is in the Public Domain. And the
      common sense consequence is that this does not affect any copies already
      published but should affect any future copies to the extent that the
      publisher has been made or should be aware of the change of status. In
      which case the publisher should be prepared to negotiate or find a
      substitute. This makes for a world where sharing is much more voluntary
      and not based on force, and where investments are made accordingly.

      I'm interested to approach participants in the Creative Commons
      initiative who would like to see more emphasis on ethics rather than
      law. I believe that here in Europe we might succeed in developing an
      ethical European alternative ("respect these requests") to a legalistic
      American approach ("these rights reserved"). Especially as the network's
      major role can be to suggest European policy that leads to directives
      that lead to harmonized laws throughout the Union.

      Pamela McLean has agreed to host work on this proposal at her working
      group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningfromeachother/ Her key
      concept in life is "learning from each other" and she's especially
      interested in how we and ICT might support learning, especially in
      Africa, which is a wonderful land for thinking fresh. Paolo Pumilia is
      also active there. We invite all to join us, please send a blank message
      to learningfromeachother-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Roland, if you think
      this is a good idea, please ask people at your workshop to sign up for
      this group and get their permissions. This would be a great boost for us
      to help you! Also, the more openly that we write this proposal, the more
      partners, attention and good will we might attract.

      Roland, best wishes in your work!
      Please keep us posted!


      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      +370 (5) 264 5950
      +370 (699) 30003
      Vilnius, Lithuania




      Issues and policies relating to the public domain are critical across
      all the target areas covered by
      the programme for facilitating the accessibility, use and exploitation
      of digital content in general. In
      2006, eContentplus will fund a thematic network to examine the situation
      in the European Union
      and develop strategies and solutions for its Member States.
      For the purposes of this work programme, public domain refers to content
      that is not or no longer
      protected by copyright, for example because it is not entitled to
      copyright protection or the
      copyright has been waived or has expired. Related issues that also
      require examination include
      material that is protected by copyright, but can be accessed and used by
      all, e.g. through open
      access, under Creative Commons licences or as orphan works, i.e. works
      protected by copyright but
      where it is impossible to identify the person entitled to exercise the

      6.1. A Thematic Network on public-domain and related issues

      Objective: A single network will be funded to spread awareness among
      content stakeholders on the importance of issues relating to the public
      domain for the usability and accessibility of digital content. It will
      identify the issues and develop strategies for tackling them at European

      Conditions: In addition to the common requirements for Thematic
      Networks, proposals should meet the
      following conditions:
      • They should bring together experts from different backgrounds with an
      interest in the public
      domain, such as IPR experts, content owners (libraries and archives),
      representatives of the
      scientific community, end users and consumers.
      • Participants should represent the interests of actors from a
      sufficiently wide geographical area
      so as to have an impact at European level.

      Expected results: Digital stakeholders should understand and appreciate
      public domain issues and incorporate that understanding and appreciation
      in strategies and solutions for dealing with such issues at European
    • Andrius Kulikauskas
      Dante, Roland, Thank you!
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 18, 2006
        Dante, Roland, Thank you!

        Dante-Gabryell Monson wrote:

        > Hi Andrius
        > I talked with Roland yesterday evening
        > My feeling is that he is very open for joint (grant) project
        > applications / or can help in finding partners
        > I also add some links to delicious - to openleader
        > greetings
        > dante
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