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A growing number of conferences were attended by Wikimedians this quarter, both as speakers and as booth-tenders. Here are reports on some of the most remarkable and interesting.
Meanwhile, the Wikimania team is busy preparing for the Wikimania conference, the first international Wikimedia conference, to be held in August 2005. We hope you will be able to participate; we have kept entrance fees very low to make attendance as painless as possible. You can register for the conference online.
Fosdem is a yearly event in Brussels, Belgium; and was a great opportunity to meet many of the "Who's Who" of the Open Software/Free Software community. Jimmy had been asked to give the keynote speech for the 2005 event, so it was important to get some presence on the floor as well.
Many people were involved in planning this event. Walter played a key part: as he was living in Brussels, he handled much of the printing of pamphlets and leaflets; French leaflets came in the mail from Anthere, and he printed German and Dutch leaflets and laminated A2 posters. Elian helped finish making a beautiful set of leaflets — late one night, she had many people scramble to finish the Dutch text and produce a professional product. Everything came together in Brussels, and the attendees had a great time.
From March 10-12, Wikimedia was present at CeBIT, the world's biggest computer fair, in Hannover, Germany. Our booth was located in the lovely neighbourhood of projects like Debian, KDE, Gnome and OpenOffice at the Linuxpark. Brockhaus was also present at CeBIT, in the same hall as Wikimedia. Unlike most other open source projects, Wikimedia had an entire booth devoted to it, with a table for a presentation computer and for leaflets. Decoration and equipment was scarce — posters left over from FOSDEM 2005 were used, and Nina's brand new iBook served as the presentation computer.
TIC is a sustainable development conference; its latest event, TIC21, took place in France in February 2005. Anthere was asked to write an article on how Wikipedia is related to sustainable development for a TIC21 newsletter, and invited to participate at the TIC conference. Wikimedia has since been invited to give a presentation for next year's conference by one of the organisers.
Anthere speaking at Dot Org Boom in Stockholm, Sweden 2005. By LA2.
Wikimedia was invited to the PixelACHE electronic art festival and its Dot Org Boom seminar, which took place in April 2005 in Helsinki, Finland. Florence Devouard was the Wikipedia ambassador for three presentations; one in the Finnish embassy in Stockholm, and the other two in Helsinki.
The festival provided an opportunity for a meetup with three editors in Stockholm (Lars Aronsson of Project Runeberg and Susning.nu, Steve Rapaport, and Sabina Rapaport Romlin) and two in Helsinki (Timo and Cimon). Steve wrote up a biased but appreciated report afterwards.
Jimmy Wales is going to give a talk at the mid-November WSIS meeting. He also asked that Wikimedia be represented at the next Prepcom (19-30 September, in Geneva, Switzerland) with a booth run by Wikimedia volunteers. He also suggested a workshop to be run for people who want to learn more about how Wikipedia functions.
Wikimania 2005 - The First International Wikimedia Conference will be held in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, from 4 August 2005 to 8 August 2005. The conference is accepting papers and other submissions through the end of May (from people both within and outside the Wikimedia and Wikipedia communities) for presentations, workshops, and discussion groups. Suggestions are also being accepted for speaker panels, keynote speakers, and other activities. Submissions may be sent to cfp--at--wikimedia.org; other inquiries to info--at--wikimedia.org. Freely licensed works are preferred. We strongly encourage you to license submissions under GFDL or CC. You can also directly write the paper at http://meta.wikimedia.org or another wiki.
The audience will consist primarily of around 300 active Wikimedians from all over the world.
Translation services will be available at the conference. The speakers list will be finalized at the end of June, and attendees will be encouraged to coordinate their own additional activities ahead of time.
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Some of our fellow wikimedians get involved with the Foundation's work by means other than editing. Below are descriptions of a partnership started with Kennisnet and a report on the use of intellectual property in France, both of which came about through the independent efforts of Wikimedians.
Kennisnet and Wikimedia, the start of a partnership
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"Tigers have very bold black stripes on their fur." Wikijunior is developing educational material for children by adapting content on Wikipedia for their younger audience. By Malene Thyssen
Kennisnet is a group that provides proxies for Dutch schools. They were a major source of
vandalism for the Dutch Wikipedia, and so most of the Dutch moderators did not like them. There were frequent discussions about what to do; should we block Kennisnet permanently or only for short periods, in order not to have the good suffer for the bad? We had contact with a few schools, which proved that we could cooperate if we knew whom to contact. Kennisnet was a central ISP; what could we do?
Then the Wikijunior project started, with a small grant to create educational content. This was an opportunity to approach Kennisnet: maybe we could get them interested in this project, and they could help us with the proxy problems. We arranged a meeting: two Wikimedians went to Zoetermeer. We were welcomed by a big panel of senior people from Kennisnet and introduced ourselves. It turned out they liked us, they knew us, and they immediately wanted to know what Kennisnet could do to improve the availability of Wikipedia!
It was thrilling to see how well received our efforts on new projects like Wiktionary, Wikibooks and Wikinews were. Our perception of Kennisnet as an ISP proved to be totally wrong. Kennisnet was only the intermediary between schools and ISPs, overseeing a contract that provided Internet access; it was unfortunate that this contract was also called Kennisnet.
Our second meeting was amusing; the Wikipedians arrived in a big group, but due to sickness there was only one person from Kennisnet. Nevertheless, this proved to be a really important meeting. Kennisnet wanted to act like a partner; the basics for all the projects were identified: hosting, funding for Wikidata and improvements to Wiktionary, using Wikipedia and Wikinews within Kennisnet projects, and having kids contribute to Wikipedia. It was really brilliant. In all the excitement we had forgotten about the proxies, and about Wikijunior, but this is bound to come up at a next meeting...
by Yann Forget, with the help of Teofilo-Folengo, Emmanuel Legrand, and Nataraja.
This article reflects the opinions of its authors, which may not be those of the board of the Wikimedia Foundation
Wikipedia editors have encountered problems in obtaining documents that should be largely accessible to the public. On the other hand, certain institutions are beginning to show an awareness of this problem.
Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Février. This illumination is the oldest known image of winter. By Petrusbarbygere
Several requests were made to French institutions to obtain authorization for the publication of documents in Wikipedia. Institutions contacted include the National Library of France and the photographic archives of the French Ministry for Culture.
In the first case, these are illuminations which have several centuries. Although The National Library of France authorized the reproduction, they did so only with restrictions, since they would not admit that these documents are in the public domain.
The second case concerned 19th Century photographs of which the ADAGP society and the historic monuments refuse any publication without the payment of royalties.
On March 15, 2005, the Supreme Court of Appeal, the highest French jurisdiction, handed down a very interesting judgment in the field of authors' rights. It involved the artists Daniel Buren and Christian Drevet, who are the authors of the refitting of Place des Terreaux, in Lyon. They reproached four editors for having reproduced and marketed postcards of the square without their authorization and mentioning their name on the back of the cards.
For Gérard Ducrey, lawyer of the Union professionnelle de la carte postale (Professional Postcard Union), this is a revolution in the image copyright law for works made by civil servants (...) a crushing blow to the operations of confiscation of public space by certain artists. Ducrey, more precisely, aims at architects, authors of famous buildings built with public money, who require a royalty each time their work appears in a newspaper, a book, on a postcard or on a poster. It is the case for the pyramid of the Louvre, the National Library of France, the Great Arch of La Défense...
This decision which makes jurisprudence will certainly have positive consequences on projects such as Wikipédia.
This French historical map, showing discoverings in present-day United States following a 1673 expedition, was kindly made available to Wikimedia by the National Library of France. By David Monniaux
The opinion of the President of the French RepublicEdit
The President of the French Republic recently intervened with the Ministry for Culture, asking for acceleration of the diffusion of French and European works on the Internet. He particularly asked for an analysis of the conditions under which the funds of the large French and European libraries could be enlarged and made more easily accessible on the Internet.
It would be interesting to see how this initiative could benefit the projects of the Wikimedia Foundation.
In addition, three European countries - the United Kingdom, Italy and France - joined to create an Internet portal to display cultural collections. Other countries should join the project soon. Germany, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal have all expressed an interest in joining the Michael Project.
It would be interesting to intercede with the founders of this project to make works in the public domain clearly identified and easily accessible.
Intellectual property of Public AdministrationsEdit
It would be useful to begin a campaign of lobbying to ask for the free licensing, or dedication into the public domain, of works produced for public administrations, as often as possible. This is done automatically by certain United States administrations, such as NASA and other American federal administrations (although state and city administrations may copyright their works). Such a change would help to promote the diffusion of such works within their field, and to avoid other copyright complications; if done throughout the world, it would also balance the current United States-related dominance of contents available freely on line.
There is a bill being considered by the French Parliament, which was adopted for consideration by the Council of Ministers on November 12, 2003. This bill says that 'Title II' expressly recognizes the efforts of authors in producing works within their functions as public agents. It considers ways to guarantee royalties for such work, while also guaranteeing the administration which employs them a means of fulfilling its mission of public service.
The 2003 report of the Public Edition Mediator contains an enigmatic quote: une grande partie des tirages est réservée à une diffusion gratuite que les informations données ne permettent toutefois pas d’estimer globalement. (Rough translation: 'A majority of circulations are reserved for free distribution, the value of which cannot be estimated from the given information.')
Initially, it would be necessary to benefit from the national feeling to ask for the publication of certain documents under a free licence (for example, photographs of the presidents of the French Republic). Then, one could widen the sphere of activity to other types of documents.
To write to French MPs asking them to adopt a legislation similar to the German law on the freedom of panorama (de:Panoramafreiheit), which makes it possible for photographers to exempt the majority of royalties when work photographed is on a public highway.
I think that, in the long run, our role is to promote the ideas of Culture Libre. We must define the intermediate stages in reaching this goal.