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WG2: Technology issues (TECH)


WG2 studies the complex relationships between technology, and more specifically information and communication technologies, and the public domain and related issues. WG2 will start its work focusing on the following sub-topics: the impact of data formats and protocols on the digital public domain; Rights Expression Languages and in general management of metadata applied to digital or digitalized works, and whether the public domain has particular needs to require a change in the approach to such management; search technologies, with a particular attention paid to semantic analysis capabilities and interface with legal ontologies; storage technologies, and more specifically massively distributed storage such as can be found in P2P systems; trust as it is expressed through the use of digital signatures and timestamps for managing repositories of digital works, particularly when such works are either in the public domain or released under "sharing" licensing frameworks; Digital Rights Management systems and the way in which digital enforcement of copyright policies interacts with the public domain; network policies and the way in which they influence access to, exchange and re-use of the public domain.


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Notes from the 7th Communia Workshop, 31st January 2010, Luxembourg

In this workshop The WG chose the most significant policy recommendations from the existing ones and tried to refine them, adding and explaining motivations and making a more in depth analysis of their aspects.

They focused on two main topics: software patents and data formats.

Software patents could represent a threat for public domain free software. The development of platforms for accessibility of video content (in particular codecs) is one of the best examples of how the whole field of human creative production can be affected by a software patents restrictive regime, threatening innovation but also digital public domain contents diffusion.
Data formats and metadata are critical for content diffusion and preservation. Europe needs interoperable rights expression languages and public domain formats, metadata, ontologies and vocabularies, otherwise the pillar of our emerging digital culture will continue to remain invisible among a sea of commercial, exclusive content.
It's important to promote projects to develop such public domain semantic web tools, capable of representing and describe contents, with FLOSS reference implementations.
They also discussed the need of communication protocols with the same characteristics for contents fruition from the web.

Notes from the 6th Communia Workshop, 1st October 2009, Barcelona

In this working group meeting we decided to focus on policy recommendations, also considering the approaching Luxembourg workshop.

We discussed the effects of software patents on the public domain seen as common progress in technologies involved in everyday life activities and we started to draft a related policy recommendation.
We also discussed some additional details on the topics already listed in the policy recommendations wiki, such as metadata schemas for public domain contents, data formats and communication protocols (and FLOSS reference implementations).
We added new proposals about the regulation of electromagnetic spectrum (transmission frequencies), the balance between transparency and privacy through encryption technologies, and we discussed about openness and interoperability of
digital infrastructures (both hardware and software).

These proposals derive from the consideration that as the society is becoming more "digital" its fundamental technology related building blocks should be in the public domain.

At the end of our meeting we planned to work on these topics on the WG2 mailing list, drafting a well defined list of recommendations for the next workshop in Luxembourg.

Notes from the 2nd Communia Conference, 28 June 2009, Turin

Firstly we analyzed the possibility to realize a Communia Public Domain RDF schema, reusing, when it's possible, existing namespaces such as the Creative Commons one, FRBR, Dublin Core, FOAF and defining specific elements starting from Communia people suggestions.
This schema would be aimed to describe Public Domain contents in a shared, detailed and machine readable way, representing a useful tool for repositories integration and dedicated search engines. In order to design such a schema we plan to collect on the WG2 wiki a list of descriptors and properties useful to describe in an exhaustive manner PD contents.
We also discussed the possibility to extend this approach to Public Domain local "interpretations". If it's possible to have a set of classes and properties able to describe an high level model of public domain characteristics in different jurisdictions this would result in a tool which could be exploited for PD calculation (by means of semantic web reasoning techniques).
We also started discussing about policy recommendations, pointing out copyright related issues about technologies such as databases, schemas, ontologies and proprietary platforms using PD contents.
In this meeting software patents got a lot of attention too.

We drew up a road-map for both these activities, and we will discuss details in the Communia mailing list, in order to get feedback, criticisms and suggestions, particularly about the more law related aspects (on which we are less founded). We will also start to make a draft list of policy recommendations.

Notes from the 4th Communia Workshop, 23rd January 2009, Zurich

Firstly we started by finding topics of common interest shared by the participants, and we all agreed on an interest in the use of technological tools to identify, map, and classify the public domain.
An example of the problems in finding technical solutions to the issue of mapping the public domain can be exemplified by the problems in surveying the number of works licensed under Creative Commons. Search engine surveys suggest that there are 130 million links to the licences. However, it is difficult to ascertain if this figure is accurate, as it may be missing multiple objects that are classed under one single link, or it may be singling out multiple pages that should be classed as one single object. As a result of the above, Creative Commons has implemented ccREL (Creative Commons Rights Expression Language), and has moved from an RDF to RDFa description frameworks. Similarly, Creative Commons has added elements to describe waiver of rights with the creation of CC0.
We believe that this approach could be generalised to express or discover all sorts of use-relevant information about digital content, including e.g. protected or public domain status, licensing conditions including any applicable rights, and other relevant information that has been associated with the content.
We would therefore like to suggest a meeting (Edinburgh has been suggested as a potential venue) to take place in the next quarter. The objective of this workshop would be to bring together experts on RELs, as well as policymakers who could discuss the possible elaboration of best practice guidelines for creating new ontologies, including wider use of existing ones.
The desired output for the group would be to have a set of descriptors to define the public domain in machine-readable language. This could be added to existing namespaces, or there could be a new PD-specific recommendation (pdREL?) These parameters would accommodate the mapping of the public domain performed by other groups.
We also discussed issues of content being hidden in the “Deep Web”, which is a vast part of the Internet that is generated dynamically, and therefore not indexed by search engines. This affects access to it, but also would hinder a proper technological mapping of the public domain.

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