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Public Domain Day 2010 in Poland

The second edition of the Public Domain Day celebration was organized at Warsaw's National Library by the Coalition for Open Education, a group of non-governmental organizations and institutions working in the fields of education, science and culture and promote open access to knowledge. Attended by representatives of NGOs, libraries, cultural institutions and lawyers, the debate focused on the current state of the resource-sharing culture in Poland.

During the event, members of the Coalition also hosted a multimedia presentation on the public domain, held a workshop on cultural resource sharing led by Dr. Alek Tarkowski (Creative Commons) and Jaroslaw Lipszyc (Modern Poland Foundation). Piotr Waglowski introduced a legal analysis of problems related to the public domain.

The most important concern emerging seems to be the lack of public domain protection, thus creating a ripple effect with difficulties and problems at each step. In Poland the whole issue is poorly understood and supported, starting with its very legislation: the translator of the Berne Convention (to which Poland is a signatory) used the official term of ‘nation public ownership’. [11jan10]

Happy Public Domain Day!

While New Year's Day is an occasion for great celebrations worldwide, we shouldn't forget another special reason to celebrate January 1st: Public Domain Day! In several countries, this day marks the expiration of copyright protection terms on creative works produced by authors who died several decades earlier (1939, for this 01/01/2010). Therefore such works enter the Public Domain, and their content is no longer owned or controlled by anyone but it rather becomes available for anyone to freely use for any purpose. In other words, on each year's January 1st an impressive wealth of knowledge, information and beauty becomes freely available to humankind.

To celebrate this occasion, COMMUNIA is promoting a new website devoted to Public Domain Day: http://www.publicdomainday.org. This project aims at increasing the public awareness of this celebration and educating about the Public Domain concept and its potentialities for spreading culture and knowledge worldwide. The website is particularly focused on this Public Domain Day 2010, providing useful resources (Countries' copyright terms, Public Domain calculators, related sites and databases, etc.) and a detailed list of authors and artists who died in 1939 and now enter the Public Domain (only in certain countries, since copyright regulations differ in the various countries and often require a lawyer opinion). Among the over 600 names included in that list, at least in selected jurisdictions, there are Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis; William Butler Yeats, one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature; Alphonse Maria Mucha, a renowned Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist.

Unfortunately in the US there is little to celebrate because no published works will be entering the public domain until 2019. But the Center for the Study of Public Domain at Duke University (a COMMUNIA member) published a very informative website to mark the event. Other initiatives to celebrate Public Domain Day are planned in Poland and in Switzerland. And here is a COMMUNIA Press Release (in PDF format) for further distribution. [31dec09]

The Public Domain Works registry

New Year's Day is also known as Public Domain Day, marking the entrance in the public domain of creative works produced by authors who died some decades before. Depending on each country copyright term legislation, on 1. January an impressive wealth of knowledge, information and beauty is made freely available to the humankind as a whole.

To raise public awareness about such important date, the upcoming 2010 Public Domain Day will be celebrated with several initiatives directly organized by COMMUNIA members, including the further development of the Public Domain Works database - an open registry of artistic works that are in the public domain. [29dec09]

How to - hopefully - rescue public domain from paywalls (in USA)

FedFlix logo in the public domain Carl Malamud - US technologist, author, and public domain advocate - details an often overlooked problem with content stored in the US National Archives (that is, public domain material) which should be free and easy to access for anybody (online and offline).

Instead, says Malamud: "If you want to watch videos from the National Archives today, they try to talk you into buying a DVD from the official government partner, Amazon.Com. The government web site has a 320x240 2 minute preview, using an old Microsoft codec, and all the search results encourage you to purchase from 'our partner, Amazon.Com.'"

In announcing his testimony on December 16 before the House Oversight Committee on the topic "History Museum or Records Access Agency? Defining and Fulfilling the Mission of the National Archives and Records Administration," he further explains: [7dec09]

Charter for innovation, creativity and access to knowledge

FCF Logo, under CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported LicenseWe are in the midst of a revolution in the way that knowledge and culture are created, accessed and transformed. Citizens, artists and consumers are no longer powerless and isolated in the face of the content production and distribution industries: now individuals across many different spheres collaborate, participate and decide." This is the opening of the this broad document addressing citizens’ and artists’ human rights in the digital age and released after the recent Free Culture Forum held in Barcelona, Spain.

The event gathered a "broad coalition from over 20 countries, of citizens, users, consumers, organizations, artists, hackers, members of the free culture movement, economists, lawyers, teachers, students, researchers, scientists, activists, workers, unemployed, entrepreneurs, creators…" debating the role of government in access to knowledge and the open creation and distribution of art and culture.

Along with a video on YouTube detailing the Charter, the document is currently available in English, Castellano, and Portuguese. Here are a few more excerpts closely related to the COMMUNIA activities and goals: [1dec09]

How science is shackled by intellectual property

"Ownership rights pose a real danger to scientific progress for the public good," explains John Sulston (2002 Nobel prize winner in Medicine), in an article published on The Guardian website.

"IP rights are beginning to permeate every area of scientific endeavour. Even in universities, science and innovation, which have already been paid for out of the public purse, are privatised and resold to the public via patents acquired by commercial interests. The drive to commercialise science has overtaken not only applied research but also "blue-skies" research, such that even the pure quest for knowledge is subverted by the need for profit."

Sulston also points to the just-launched Manchester Manifesto, aimed at proposing "future solutions that will more effectively protect science, innovation and the public good." [30nov09]

First meeting on Public Domain Calculators (10-11 november)

As part of its on-going activities, COMMUNIA is now hosting a series of meetings devoted to Public Domain Calculators - a task carried by the Working Group on Mapping the Public Domain.

The goal of such workshops is to try to determine whether or not a given work is under copyright in a given EU jurisdiction. The first meeting was co-organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation in association with the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge, UK.

The purpose of this workshop - held at the University of Cambridge on 10-11 November - was to produce materials such as legal flow charts and public domain “algorithms” which will help with the representation of different national copyright laws and the determination of public domain status. [20nov09]

Google Books agreement revised: no exclusive rights for 'orphan works'

From The New York Times: Google and groups representing book publishers and authors filed a modified version of their controversial books settlement with a federal court on Friday. The changes would pave the way for other companies to license Google’s vast digital collection of copyrighted out-of-print books, and might resolve its conflicts with European governments.

The revisions to the settlement primarily address the handling of so-called orphan works, the millions of books whose rights holders are unknown or cannot be found. The changes call for the appointment of an independent fiduciary, or trustee, who will be solely responsible for decisions regarding orphan works. [17nov09]

COMMUNIA Newsletter - October 2009

Here below please find the October edition of our monthly newsletter, with a selection of updated news about Communia activities and other issues related to the digital Public Domain. [30oct09]

Report on 6th Communia workshop (Barcelona, 1-2/10/09)

The workshop, held on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 October 2009 at the University of Barcelona in Spain, started with a keynote by Dr. Ben White (British Library), emphasizing that we are at a crucial time: norms are currently being set by different uses, governments, and technologies, and libraries have to find a way around such differences in their on-going digitalisation efforts. It is important to get digital preservation right at economic, technical and legal levels, otherwise we will not be able to build and preserve our digital public domain. For instance, an analysys of over 100 contracts revealed that most of them systematically undermine preservation right of libraries. It is imperative to follow the lead of countries such as Ireland and Belgium: contract law cannot undermine exceptions to exclusive rights. Indeed, the British Library is currently in discussion with Wikimedia commons following the lead of the Bundesarchiv: they plan to use "social contracts" rather than a contractual framework such as a Creative Commons license. Above economic copyright, there are other issues to to be beared in mind, such as moral rights, religious sensitivities and other concerns of libraries that want people to know that certain material comes from such libraries. [28oct09]

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