The main goal of the COMMUNIA project is to build a network of organisations that shall become the single European point of reference for high-level policy discussion and strategic action on all issues related to the public domain in the digital environment, as well as related topics such as alternative forms of licensing for creative material (including, but not limited to, Creative Commons licenses), open access to scientific publications and research results, management of works whose authors are unknown (i.e. orphan works).
The emergence of the "knowledge society" and of new modes of production, consumption, elaboration and re-elaboration of information and of information-based goods, in both the private and public sectors and across all kinds of human action, forces a general rethinking of the economic and social effects of policies that impact on such information and information-based goods, a part of which are the topic of the COMMUNIA project.
In particular, the better understanding of the digital public domain (and related issues) that will be achieved by the project will help all the relevant stakeholders develop appropriate policies related to economic and social issues, including:
- the role of the digital public domain in allowing new business models to emerge - e.g. based on encouraging, rather than restricting, reproduction and dissemination of information-based goods - therefore producing growth and jobs across the EU; strictly related to such understanding is the question, that COMMUNIA will provide proper answers to, of what are the proper policies to encourage such usage of the digital public domain;
- the role of the digital public domain in ensuring a proper "access to information" for all EU citizens on all the matters that are relevant in their daily life, including - but not limited to - information on decision-making processes in the political arena, on environmental and health issues, on different cultures and their histories. A widespread access to such information, which is closely linked to the kind of policies that will be applied to the digital public domain, is vital for the European society to maintain its social cohesion and political peace in an historical moment where all citizens are confronted with unprecedented challenges; sensible policies on the digital public domain are absolutely necessary in order for it to achieve the objectives above while at the same time making sure that innovation flourishes;
The i2010 strategy
COMMUNIA will contribute to the achievement of several goals of the i2010 strategy (see COM (2005) 229 Final), including:
- building the Single European Information Space. COMMUNIA will contribute to the achievement of this priority by helping the promotion of the knowledge society, providing a better policy-oriented understanding of how the digital public domain can contribute to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of processes of lifelong learning, creativity and innovation for all EU citizens, while at the same time, thanks to the input of its relevant members, ensuring that consumer protection is taken into due account; moreover, the Thematic Network will also foster the creation and circulation of rich content - by providing strategies for maximizing the usability of the existing and future public domain and ensuring that content is not locked-in - and will help defining legal and economic certainty for such activities, through the definition of a clear set of policies related to the status of the digital public domain. COMMUNIA will contribute to the definition of a comprehensive approach for effective and interoperable digital rights management, by making sure that all European DRM technologies take into proper account the peculiar characteristics of the digital public domain;
- fostering innovation and investment in research: COMMUNIA will contribute to the achievement of this priority by providing a better understanding of the policy drivers and issues related to the digital public domain that are most relevant to the production of e-business solutions - insofar as the i2010 strategy highlights how collaboration processes, which are often based on access to, exchange and re-use of the digital public domain - are paramount to building such solutions in an efficient and effective manner;
- achieving inclusion, better public services and quality of life: COMMUNIA will contribute to the achievement of this priority through the definition of policies related to the digital public domain that are most relevant to the development of more accessible and more cost-effective public services and e-government processes (for example, by clarifying the legal status of public/governmental information); it will moreover contribute to achieving a better quality of life by clarifying the role and usefulness of the digital public domain vis-a-vis policies and technologies relevant for e-Health (for example, access to good lifestyle information for all European citizens); for the promotion of cultural diversity (for example, by proposing policies that would ease access to, circulation and, where desiderable, re-use of cultural artefacts from all the relevant stakeholders) and the preservation of cultural heritage (much of which is in the public domain, thus prompting the definition of good practices from the legal, economic and technological points of view);
- achieve several of the goals of Audiovisual and Media Policies (see COM(1999) 67 Final), including safeguarding the public interest by understanding how the digital public domain can help traditional and new media facilitate access to information, fulfil their democratic function and transmit social values; protecting and improving cultural diversity; ensuring that all European citizens can have an affordable access to content;