Written by Dimitar Dimitrov
Since 2016 Wikimedia Norge supports the work of the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU. A team of European Wikimedia chapters, user-groups and activists have joined forces to making sure free knowledge aspects are taken into account when new European legislation is made. Large parts of this legislations apply to Norway and Norway gets a say in the making process.
Wikimedians have been exploring how the political and legal environment could be improved so that far more cultural heritage works become freely available. The question of lobbying for free knowledge is far from being new in the movement. During the Wikimania 2009 in Buenos Aires, a group of activists suggested some core issues which should be monitored on a regular basis. During the Wikimania 2011 in Haifa and the Wikimania 2012 in Washington D.C. A variety of Chapters’ projects was presetned, which indicated clearly that there is a constant level of advocacy work.
The Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU
The general lack of sensibilities to free knowledge aspects in European law making has led to an annoying copyright extension for musical recordings, a half-baked solution for the use of orphan works and collective rights management rules that allow artist to freely license their works only for non-commercial purposes. The frustration of these setbacks quickly turned into motivation to take things into our own hands. In April an international get-together was organised in Brussels, which served as the kick-off meeting for the “Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU”. The group was to make sure that our voice of the free & open community is heard when relevant legislation is discussed. Its mission is to prevent furhter setbacks, but also to work towards positive change. It’s three main goals are enshrined in a Statement of Intent, the founding document that Wikimedia Norge has also signed.
Norway, the EEA and the EU
But why would Wikimedia Norge feel the need to be involved in the European Union legislative processes? Well, because Norway is a member of the European Economic Area. As such, it gets access ot the European Single Market. In return, it has committed itself to accept the four freedoms, to contribute to the EU budget and to apply large portions of EU legislation. Because of this, every European Directive that has to be transposed in full or in part into Norwegian law comes with the note “Text with EEA relevance” underneath the title. Copyright is such a legislative act. The usual way the Norwegian government is involved in the process is that it gets its own consultation round with the European Commission before new legislation is proposed.
Our first big joint challenge!
On 14 September the European Commission presented it’s proposal for a EU copyright reform. The text is with EEA relevance.
There are many worrying points for Wikimedia in the proposal. It does not address Freedom of Panorama or provide for an additional safeguard of the public pomain. It’s text and data mining provision could put our automatic use of census data and information from medical journals at risk. Its proposal to introduce content recognition technologies for platforms with large amounts of user-generated content question the very basic principles on which Wikipdia operates.
The good news is that this time around we are organised. We are permanently represented in Brussels and our chapters are already working together in a coordinated manner to address the risks and propose fixes. And the best thing is that everyone can join the effort. Regardless whether you want to come to Brussels and help on location, prefer to raise awareness back home or to help forge new arguments for our demands. A great place to start is the public policy mailing list or by sending Dimi a message.
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