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COMMUNIA Final Report available online

The COMMUNIA Final Report (as approved by the EU Commission) is finally available online.

This Report provides a useful insight on the activities of COMMUNIA, while also addressing the state of the digital public domain in Europe and providing some policy recommend for enhancing public domain and making digital content more accessible and re-usable by all citizens.

Please read it, share it and spread the word!

Publication of the COMMUNIA book "The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture"

The book "The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture", edited by Melanie Dulong de Rosnay and Juan Carlos De Martin as an output of the Communia Thematic Network, is out in all formats (hardback, paperback, and digital editions) and can be purchased on the website of OpenBookPublishers.

The book is under a CC Attribution license and the PDF can be downloaded here: The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture

Citation reference: Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, Juan Carlos De Martin, (eds.), The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture, Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK, 2012, 220 p.

This book brings together essays by academics, librarians, entrepreneurs, activists and policy makers, who were all part of the EU-funded Communia project. Together the authors argue that the Public Domain — that is, the informational works owned by all of us, be that literature, music, the output of scientific research, educational material or public sector information — is fundamental to a healthy society.
The essays range from more theoretical papers on the history of copyright and the Public Domain, to practical examples and case studies of recent projects that have engaged with the principles of Open Access and Creative Commons licensing. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in the current debate about copyright and the Internet. It opens up discussion and offers practical solutions to the difficult question of the regulation of culture at the digital age.

Launch of the COMMUNIA Non-Profit Association

After almost four years of activities, the COMMUNIA Project is closing down. But many members, willing to pursue its overall goals, decided to form of an International Non-Profit Association based in Brussels. The Association’s mission is to educate about, advocate for, offer expertise and research about the public domain in the digital age within society and with policy-makers.

The COMMUNIA Association aims at expanding the discussion and activities carried out by the Project so far, planning in particular to help us create a more balanced discussion about copyright in the digital environment and maximize the economic, social and cultural impact of our cultural and scientific heritage.

The COMMUNIA Association launch event is planned for Thursday June 16, 2011 at 09:00PM CEST, at The MONK Café Rue Sainte Catherine, 42, in Bruxelles. Everybody is welcome! More details on its website and on this LinkedIn page.

Here is a first article/interview about the new Association, while a list of 14 principles to protect and promote the public domain has already been drafted. It includes a warning against ever-longer automatic copyright protection periods (up to 90 years), a call to sanction “any false or misleading attempt to misappropriate public domain material,” and to only grant full copyright protection to registered works.

Please spread the word, join us in Bruxelles and follow this new endeavour on Twitter!

"Open Access" for Yale's vast cultural heritage collections

George Stubbs, Zebra, 1763, oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. From the collections of Yale University (public domain) Yale University announced a new "Open Access" policy that gives free access to online images of millions of objects housed in Yale's museums, archives, and libraries. More than 250,000 images are already available through a newly-developed a collective catalog.

The final goal is to make high quality digital images of Yale's vast cultural heritage collections in the public domain openly and freely available. As works in these collections become digitized, the museums and libraries will make those images that are in the public domain freely accessible.

Only the collections of the Peabody Museum of Natural History encompass over 12 million specimens and objects in 11 curatorial divisions, from anthropology to vertebrate zoology, while the University holds world-renowned art collections from antiquity to the present and is also home to the world's seventh largest library system, with over 10 million volumes and countless manuscripts and documents in 18 libraries.

"With this pioneering open access policy, Yale reminds us that with any great academic collection comes a great responsibility: to share our cultural heritage openly in order to advance scholarship not only on campus but around the world," noted Max Marmor, president of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, which encourages teaching, learning and scholarship in the history of art.

Here is a slideshow sampling of digitized images from Yale's collections. [13may11]

PORTO - Publication Open Repository TOrino

Porto"

From May 13th, with PORTO, the scientific papers produced by the academic community of the Politecnico di Torino will begin to be freely accessible online.

At this time, the knowledge produced by universities, almost always with public funds, is accessible only by bearing the cost of subscriptions to scientific magazines. With the creation of PORTO, the Politecnico will make available an infrastructure of great value not only for the scientific community, but as a true common good, which will benefit everyone, from individuals and productive system that will easily appreciate the academic research and its results.

The NEXA Center for Internet & Society has been glad to contribute to this important initiative of the Politecnico.

"Mozart, C'est Vous!" online competition

Mozart,
The Opéra de Lyon has launched an innovative music competition, entirely managed online and based on public domain content. "Mozart, C'est Vous!" includes 16 original compositions covering various genres (from jazz to folk to classics) played by French artists and bands. People can browse and watch each video online, and then enter their preference directly on the web, from April 5th through the 11th.

The votes of the online competition will be combined with the decision of the two-professional jury. The final winners will play in July under the Peristyle during the Opéra de Lyon summer concerts.

"Mozart, C'est Vous!" is a great example of the (musical) opportunities offered by publicly available material -- carried out in a professional and stimulating way for music lovers worldwide! [08apr11]

Open Data Challenge: EU's biggest ever public data competition

=Given that EU public bodies produce thousands upon thousands of datasets every year -- from how our tax money is spent to the quality of the air we breathe -- this new project is an open call to designers, developers, journalists, researchers and others to people to come up with something useful, valuable or interesting for European citizens built solely using open data.

Anyone can suggest an idea, submit working applications or visual representations or datasets originally assembled - in the respective four challenging areas. There is currently a total of €20,000 in prizes plus several awards to be won. The competition is open from 5th April until 5th June midnight. The winners will be selected by an all star cast of open data gurus (including EC Vice President Neelie Kroes and Sir Tim Berners-Lee) and announced in mid June at the European Digital Assembly in Brussels.

The Open Data Challenge is being coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Open Forum Academy under the auspices of the Share PSI initiative, with many EU academic centers and institutional agencies in the supporting role.

More information on the Open Data Challenge website. [05apr11]

The Public Domain Manifesto in the current history of the Internet

Owni.eu, an innovative project of digital journalism, covering technology, politics and culture in French and English, published an interesting piece about the history of the Internet. Actually, it is an interactive timeline (app) comprising manifestos, declarations and other public documents, drafted by various experts and organizations from 1981 to 2011 -- including also the Public Domain Manifesto.

The accompanying review explains, among other things, that "the manifesto was a great success…thousands of individuals have signed, along with organizations and institutions worldwide heterogeneous origin". Federico Morando (COMMUNIA staff) is quoted adding that, in drafting the Manifesto, "we looked for different views from lawyers, professors, activists about the public domain". The broader goal is to have an inclusive and larger debate, even if the "sterile war" of copyright cannot be stopped overnight. [24mar11]

Public domain manifesto on Owni.eu

Owni.eu, an innovative project of digital journalism, covering technology, politics and culture in French and English, published an interesting piece about the

Can public domain works be "restored" into copyright?

The US Supreme Court will says it will hear a case considering whether public domain works can be "re-copyrighted." And advocacy groups say that free speech is at stake in this fight. Congress' decision to uphold an international treaty allowing for public works to be "restored" into copyright will create an atmosphere of uncertainty for libraries, they warn, caretakers of the public domain.

"Because it protects our cultural commons, the public domain is equally essential, in turn, to free speech, helping to give meaning to the First Amendment right to receive information," wrote the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Internet Archive in a brief asking the Supremes to hear the matter.

"Given the large number of works in the collections of US libraries, libraries must reasonably fear that they could be sued multiple times if they continued to provide access to the materials in their collections that might be withdrawn from the public domain."

The case, scheduled for next fall, is Golan v. Holder (formerly Golan v. Gonzales). Lawrence Golan is a symphony conductor who availed himself of some manuscripts of the composer Sergei Prokofiev—that is until they reverted back into copyright, thanks to Congress's upholding Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.

Read the full article on ArsTechica. [9mar11]

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