Wednesday, 23 November 2016

MozFest, part 2: copyright & public domain remix

Last month I went to MozFest - the Mozilla Foundation's Festival for an open internet. I started sharing my notes in a first post about all the sessions on open data I attended, and here is a write-up from two sessions related to copyright and remixing public domain works.

Reform EU copyright: what's wrong with it, and what you can do
What better way to start the festival than with a session on copyright - right?! Plus it took place in the library... 😍

Inside the library at Ravensbourne - with CC cushions for the occasion!
The facilitator explained that the European Commission has now handed the draft copyright law to the European Parliament - "MEPs are elected by citizens, and they will listen, if we're loud enough". Each speaker outlined a particular issue in the draft.

  • Caroline (Copyright for Creativity) made us do a quick quiz to see how well we knew copyright exceptions in Europe - "Is it legal to quote a picture, a film, ... ?" "Those of you who said yes, you live in Finland!" She was dynamic and frank in her way of speaking; after the quiz question around the copyright exception for text and data mining and the circumstances in which it is legal, she made the comment: "As soon as it's too efficient, it's illegal"!
  • Alek (Centrum Cyfrowe and Communia) discussed copyright and education - "Ask yourself which of the two is a basic human right, and I hope the answer is obvious". Education is so important, it is good that a copyright exception was included into this reform but the proposal is not enough. The text and data mining exception includes a non-contract override but not the education exception - which to Alek does not make sense.
  • Karolina (IFLA) gave more details on the proposed text and data mining exception in the draft: it would only apply to research organisations and for research purposes, whereas libraries want text and data mining to be allowed both for non-commercial AND commercial purposes. It is important that we don't let culture, research and enterprise be limited by arbitrary restrictions.
  • Dimi (Wikimedia Foundation) talked about the need to strengthen the commons. For example, laws in Germany and Spain are inconclusive when it comes to copyright in copies or digitised versions of public domain works - this is true to an extent even in the UK. "We're afraid that our public domain is being carved out. We believe there should be a clause to safeguard our public domain in the copyright legislation."
  • Tim (Creative Commons) explained the proposal on ancillary copyright for press publications. This type of copyright has already been tried in Spain, where people realised it wasn't working the way it was supposed to. In fact the web traffic to press websites decreased and Google News just decided to shut down. But "the publishers need Google News more than Google News needs the publishers". Another problem is that the proposal would not affect only articles, but also snippets on social media, potentially articles under open licenses; it would apply to scientific publishing too, threatening current open access models. Tim's view was that ancillary copyright (also called "link tax") goes above and beyond copyright, and the draft law does not make clear who that right applies to, potentially making it dangerously broad.
  • Diego (EDRi) described the proposed copyright upload filters on user content as a "massive attack on the Internet", YouTube's Content ID but worse, a "censorship machine". The Commission wants to prevent the availability of content by monitoring uploads, shifting the responsibility of enforcing copyright to the content platforms.

So, what can we do about all this?
  • Tune in to the #FixCopyright hashtag and find out what will happen;
  • join Wikimedia, Creative Commons or another organisation involved in pushing for copyright reform;
  • "Your voice matters!" - feedback during consultations, sign petitions, email your MEP;
  • play the numbers: the more we shout the more we'll get heard.

And finally:
  • We need to have these complicated conversations with people who may be unexpected allies.
  • Libraries need to advise users on how copyright works, because people don't know what they can and can't do with creative works. [Not my words, the speaker's!!]

Remix your own historical narratives
This session was delivered by three librarians from New York State - Nate, Davis and Matthew. They were clear from the start: "We're using you as guinea pigs!" They explained they are aiming to run this type of sessions for librarians to gain some web literacy skills, and for them to in turn run sessions in their libraries.

"There's a tremendous push from galleries, libraries, archives and museums to put collections online e.g. images" though some are locked down with copyright while some are open. In this workshop people learn some basic HTML and discover sources of free-to-use historical images by remixing and manipulating media to produce a zine or a comic.

The zines and comics can be created "in hard copy" by printing pictures and using paper and glue to put them together (which is what I did during the session!) but the aim is to use the zine-o-matic and comic creator templates. Using Mozilla Thimble to remix projects, you simply need to edit the code to make your own comic/zine by inserting the URL of pictures that are in the public domain or openly licensed and by changing the captions.

I loved the session as it was exactly the type of things I've been trying to do these past couple of years with the workshops part of my Commons are forever project: getting people to be creative and remix works that are freely and legally accessible while making them aware of public domain and open licences... And now I have two new tools to try out in a future workshop in my library!

Beer : a short story in 3 pictures GIF
The zine I created during the session... brought to you as a GIF

Notes from the remaining sessions will be published in a third blog post.

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