03 February 2010

The Public Domain Manifesto

I learned about the Public Domain Manifesto from Bogdan's blog and as soon as I read it I found it awesome and signed.

As skeptical as I am about such a document being ever officially accepted (there are so many interests and such powerful lobbyists...) I couldn't stop promoting it further. The Open Clip Art Library is an excellent use case for PD, the manifesto is all about we are doing there. I' also trying to talk one of the ambassadors (I am not one of them) into signing it on behalf of our Romanian Fedora community.

Here is the preamble of the manifesto:

"Our markets, our democracy, our science, our traditions of free speech, and our art all depend more heavily on a Public Domain of freely available material than they do on the informational material that is covered by property rights. The Public Domain is not some gummy residue left behind when all the good stuff has been covered by property law. The Public Domain is the place we quarry the building blocks of our culture. It is, in fact, the majority of our culture."(James Boyle, The Public Domain, p.40f, 2008)

Its general principles:
  1. The Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception.
  2. Copyright protection should last only as long as necessary to achieve a reasonable compromise between protecting and rewarding the author for his intellectual labour and safeguarding the public interest in the dissemination of culture and knowledge.
  3. What is in the Public Domain must remain in the Public Domain.
  4. The lawful user of a digital copy of a Public Domain work should be free to (re-)use, copy and modify such work.
  5. Contracts or technical protection measures that restrict access to and re-use of Public Domain works must not be enforced.
And general recommendations:
  1. The term of copyright protection should be reduced.
  2. Any change to the scope of copyright protection (including any new definition of protectable subject-matter or expansion of exclusive rights) needs to take into account the effects on the Public Domain.
  3. When material is deemed to fall in the structural Public Domain in its country of origin, the material should be recognized as part of the structural Public Domain in all other countries of the world.
  4. Any false or misleading attempt to misappropriate Public Domain material must be legally punished.
  5. No other intellectual property right must be used to reconstitute exclusivity over Public Domain material.
  6. There must be a practical and effective path to make available 'orphan works' and published works that are no longer commercially available (such as out-of-print works) for re-use by society.
  7. Cultural heritage institutions should take upon themselves a special role in the effective labeling and preserving of Public Domain works.
  8. There must be no legal obstacles that prevent the voluntary sharing of works or the dedication of works to the Public Domain.
  9. Personal non-commercial uses of protected works must generally be made possible, for which alternative modes of remuneration for the author must be explored.

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