To carry out the institutional scope of COMMUNIA the following working groups ("WG") have been created.
- WG1: Education and scientific research (EDUSCIENCE) (led by Ignasi Labastida, Universitat de Barcelona)
WG1 focused on the role of the public domain for education and scientific research. More specifically, WG1 examined the way in which the public domain can or should act as a source of material for education and scientific research; how digital technologies impact on the relevance of the public domain for the scientific process; if and how current policies in granting (or denying) access to research results, both in the form of articles in journals and more generally as collections of research results (e.g. databases) is influencing the efficiency and effectiveness of research and education throughout Europe; whether a "protected public domain" or a "scientific commons" would be desirable and, if so, which would be the proper strategies to achieve such results.
- WG2: Technology issues (TECH) (led by Davide Bardone, NEXA Center for Internet & Society)
WG2 studied the complex relationships between technology, especially information and communication technologies, and the public domain and related issues. WG2 focused on the following sub-topics: the impact of data formats and protocols on the digital public domain; Rights Expression Languages and management of metadata applied to digital or digitalized works with particular emphasis on whether a change in the approach to such management is required to promote the public domain; search technologies, with a particular attention to semantic analysis capabilities and interface with legal ontologies; storage technologies, especially 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.
- WG3: Libraries, museums and archives (MEMORY) (led by Maarten Brinkerink, Stichting Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid)
WG3 studies the specific issues that libraries and archives - whether public or private and independently of the specific type of works they collect - have to deal with when confronted with the public domain and more particularly with the public domain of digital works or works for which digitisation is feasible and probable. WG3 also conducted analysis on "bottom-up" archiving of works performed by volunteers, made possible by massively distributed collaboration technologies such as Wikis and other Internet and Web-based platforms. Another strand of research of WG3 related to the “voluntary sharing” area between the pure public domain and copyrighted works for which the rights holders wish to severely limit redistribution, namely works released under "sharing" licensing frameworks such as Creative Commons licenses. The issues is further complicated by the fact that libraries and archives are often vested with the particularly important duty to disseminate knowledge and culture, in its various forms, irrespective of the wishes of the rights holders. In this sense, WG3's analysis focused on the way in which public policies and the law handles the delicate balance between the role of libraries and archives, the protection that copyright law grants to rights holders and the promotion (or lack thereof) of the public domain.
- WG4: Economic analysis and new business paradigms (ECONOMICS) (led by Federico Morando, NEXA Center for Internet & Society)
WG4 focused on economic analysis of the digital public domain and the related issues of interest to the COMMUNIA project. More specifically, WG4 worked on what would be the proper analytical methods and tools when dealing with the public domain and/or "sharing" licensing frameworks in their interaction with existing and established business models (e.g. the "new" role of publishing intermediaries as agents that either act as an interface to the market for authors/rightsholders, providing distribution channels, legal advice, marketing efforts, etc.; or use the public domain as a resource for their activities). Furthermore, WG4 focused on how new business paradigms could emerge when different policies related to the public domain, and the intersection with information and communication technologies, are put in place. On this topic, WG4 devoted specific attention to the analysis of so-called "user-centered innovation", i.e. business processes and policy decisions that put end-users in a position to create and innovate information-intensive goods, and how the digital public domain and the "information commons" interact with this kind of phenomena.
- WG5: The public sphere (PUBLIC) (led by Philippe Aigrain, Sopinspace) [dissolved and merged with WG 1, during the Turin Conference 2009]
After discussion at the Amsterdam COMMUNIA workshop in October 2008, the workgroup has decided to focus on two tasks: (i) preparing and issuing an open call (to all interested parties) for position statements supportive of the public domain and voluntary information and knowledge sharing; each position statement would address a given regulatory, policy or technology issue; (ii) contributing to the work now undertaken by WG6 on "Mapping the public domain" (contents, structure, players and positions, specifics of jurisdictions).
- WG6: Mapping the public domain (MAPPING) (led by Jonathan Gray, Open Knowledge Foundation; Lucie Guibault, University of Amsterdam; and Séverine Dusollier, Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix)
WG6 focused on a twofold mission. Following a descriptive approach, WG6 provided a definition of what constitutes the public domain in Europe; and following a normative approach, WG6 developed principles and guidelines for the preservation, access to, and use of the public domain in Europe. The WG6 took a leading role in the development of the Public Domain Manifesto and the promotion of the ongoing work on the public domain calculators.