the Public Domain Manifesto


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presentation about the public domain manifesto at the Communia workshop in Luxembourg. (1 february 2010, together with Lucie Guibault)

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the Public Domain Manifesto

  1. 1. The book, in and as a book, belongs to the author, but as a thought, it belongs...and I am not all humanity. All sentient beings have a right to that thought. If one of these two rights (the authors right to the book and the people's right to the thoughts) has to be sacrificed, this should be, for sure, the rights of the author. This is because the public good is our primary concern, and I declare this [as an author], the people's rights come before ours. Victor Hugo, Discours d’ouverture du Congrès littéraire international de 1878 translation: Derek Kerton (via forum)
  2. 2. the Public Domain manifesto • Objectives: • to broaden the concept of the Public Domain in the digital age • intended as a position statement in the discussion around the scope of copyright in the digital public domain. • based on critical (academic) analysis of the scope of copyright legislation. • Drafting process started in june 2009 at a special WG6 meeting • Released on 25 january 2009 and has been signed by more than 1800 individuals and 55 organisations
  3. 3. two parts of the Public Domain: • The Public Domain: • works of authorship where the copyright protection has expired. • the essential commons of information that is not covered by copyright. • Voluntary commons and user prerogatives: • works that are voluntarily shared by their rights holders. • the user prerogatives created by exceptions and limitations to copyright, fair use and fair dealing.
  4. 4. principles (public domain) 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.
  5. 5. principles (the voluntary commons) 6. The voluntary relinquishment of copyright and sharing of protected works are legitimate exercises of copyright exclusivity. 7. Exceptions and limitations to copyright, fair use and fair dealing need to be actively maintained to ensure the effectiveness of the fundamental balance of copyright and the public interest.
  6. 6. recommendations (1) 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.
  7. 7. recommendations (2) 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.
  8. 8. you can sign the Public Domain Manifesto at: