EU Public Domain thematic network
- 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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
+370 (5) 264 5950
+370 (699) 30003
REINFORCING COOPERATION BETWEEN DIGITAL CONTENT STAKEHOLDERS
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
• 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
- 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