[cc-community] European Union Public Domain thematic network

Andrius Kulikauskas ms at ms.lt
Thu Sep 14 16:56:26 EDT 2006

Hi! I'm wondering if anybody is writing a proposal for the European Union's call to create a Public Domain thematic network?  I want to support Roland Alton-Scheidl's efforts.  He's currently at the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin and will give a workshop on this on Sunday.  My Minciu Sodas laboratory members Markus Petz, Dante-Gabryell Monson and Eric Schneider are also there.  I hope we might speak up and work together at this opportunity!

I also ask for help to make contacts in some of the bigger businesses and institutions as I think that is essential for the success of a proposal.  They could be in Europe but even outside contacts might prove helpful.  I'm thinking of hardware, software, media companies but also perhaps insurance or real estate or travel or pharmaceuticals or other companies that are knowledge intensive and might possibly benefit from a progressive approach to the Public Domain.  I'm also personally asking for a review of current dogma and a rethinking as to how we might approach these issues ethically first, and legally second.  Please join us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningfromeachother/ and also thank you for discussion at the Creative Commons list.

Andrius Kulikauskas
ms at ms.lt, http://www.ms.lt, Direktorius, Minciu Sodas

The EU's European Commission has issued a call for proposals (due 
October 19, 2006) to create a Public Domain thematic network. Up to 1 
million euros is available. http://europa.eu.int/econtentplus and more 
information below.

Since 1998, I have organized our Minciu Sodas laboratory 
http://www.ms.lt to deliberately leverage the Public Domain to serve and 
organize independent thinkers. Together we have created more than 15,000 
letters and 3,000 wiki pages. We're starting to reuse this material in 
more and more ways that facilitate our working together. We're also 
realizing that our spaces in the Public Domain filters in those who are 
willing to work openly and share freely and filters out sharkish, 
trollish and other deconstructive behavior. This means that we can 
encourage our participants to invest time, energy, resources in each 
other's growth. I have written about this logic in "An Economy for 
Giving Everything Away" http://www.ms.lt/en/workingopenly/givingaway.html

I'm writing to encourage us to organize around Roland Alton-Scheidl, 
PUBLIC VOICE Lab & Project Lead
RegisteredCommons.org, Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences, 
http://www.media.coop/about/ He's leading a workshop for all who would 
like to work together on this proposal. It takes place this Sunday at 
"The Wizards of OS" conference in Berlin 
http://www.media.coop/project/ecplus/ http://del.icio.us/ecplus

I spoke with Roland today. He and Franz Nahrada know each other quite 
well. Franz leads our lab's working group Global Villages 
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/globalvillages/ Roland is a part of 
Franz's video bridge team which is working with telecoms so that they 
offer video bridge equipment free of charge to community centers which 
subscribe to video bridge services. This option can make all the 
difference for spreading this technology and is analogous to the DSL 
companies offering modems free of charge to their subscribers. It also 
lets subscribers use the existing proprietary technology without locking 
them into it so they might switch as open source options arise. And it's 
a ground breaking example of providers serving communities rather than 

Roland is looking for a team of four or five people who might help with 
his proposal. I'm happy to help. Who else? He also asked for help to 
find partners in the various European countries, especially large 
businesses and institutions. Here are some that we can approach right away:
- Paolo Pumilia in Milan, Italy is the organizer of several Open Content 
conferences http://www.openculture.org with many ties to the academic 
community. He's the one who originally alerted me to the call.
- Steve Cayzer of Hewlett-Packard Bristol Labs 
http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Steve_Cayzer/ is working on the semantic 
web and is a friend of our lab.
- Stanko Blatnik is in Slovenia and is interested in distance learning 
and has academic connections.
- Georg Pleger of Creative Commons Austria 
http://www.creativecommons.at/Members/georgP has been very sympathetic 
and perhaps has more contacts.
I have some connections in Lithuania's government, perhaps that might be 

But we need bigger connections in order to have a chance of winning. I 
spoke recently with a friendly expert who made it clear that our lab had 
no chance of winning. These projects are typically won by outfits that 
manage thirty or forty of them at a time. They have the whole production 
line ready for this and the calls are usually formulated with them in 
mind. So I'm encouraging us to work openly and rally around Roland and 
all who are willing to put in the work and take the risk. This will 
provide three years of funding for a few organizers and travel for 
partners. And meanwhile it's a good opportunity for us to connect and 
support each other.

I defer to Roland regarding the content of the proposal. But I share my 
ideas. I would call the proposal and the network "Ethical Public 
Domain". My goal would be to focus our attention on ethics rather than 
legalities. Our work would be to analyze each domain where content is 
generated and considered what is the ethically best way to treat content 
given the relevant issues. And then to make recommendations as to how 
laws should be changed and how to focus on ethical rather than legal 
solutions. And how to integrate different kinds of content in different 

Our assumption would be that people have a basic human right to share. 
Any law which presumes that people don't want to share is in conflict 
with that right. In particular, the laws which assume that we claim 
ownership of our creative works are counter to our right to share and 
thus ethically void. People who want to claim legal protection of their 
creative works ought to be active in marking their content accordingly. 
Otherwise they are infringing on our right to share. By clarifying our 
human rights we would help show where the laws are ethical and where are 
they overstepping.

For example, as Thomas Kalka noted, one argument against public
domain software is that supposedly author's are not protected against
presumed warrantees and associated liability. Well, instead of
abandoning the public domain, why not clarify if the laws are unethical
and should be changed?

I'm also thinking of social networking (people's implicit content) and
video bridges (most explicit content) as two ends of a spectrum and
every other kind of content is somewhere in between.

One idea is to have a video bridge center in every European country and
have them in other countries so that we could have their input because
this is a global issue. And to meet through the video bridges as much as 
possible. And perhaps bring them to conferences throughout the year so 
that people throughout Europe and around the world could hook up on this 
issue both online and offline.

I also think that it could be helpful to focus attention on content that 
is socially meaningful such as a knowledge base for sustainability that 
could use all manner of media. And a social networking system to attract 
such giving people and help them help each other find paid work. Here 
again Public Domain is essential.

The Public Domain can also have an express ethical component which 
explains what is appropriate behavior under various conditions. For 
example, if you make money from content, then it's appropriate to give 
back to the content creators. But how exactly you do that and who 
exactly you give to isn't so important. And it's not a legal issue. 
Certainly for individuals and small businesses there is no recourse in 
civil law because of the expense and wasted energy and so the law is not 
a solution for the people who matter.

I think it's also perfectly human to have ethics and laws which allow 
humans to use their best judgement but require institutions with limited 
liability, such as corporations, to be taxed for their use of content. 
Or, for example, it makes sense to have patents which allow humans 
unrestricted use but require corporations to negotiate with the patent 

I think it's important to think of the Public Domain in a practical way 
and not make a legal parody of it. In practice, people can and do change 
their mind as to whether their work is in the Public Domain. And the 
common sense consequence is that this does not affect any copies already 
published but should affect any future copies to the extent that the 
publisher has been made or should be aware of the change of status. In 
which case the publisher should be prepared to negotiate or find a 
substitute. This makes for a world where sharing is much more voluntary 
and not based on force, and where investments are made accordingly.

I'm interested to approach participants in the Creative Commons 
initiative who would like to see more emphasis on ethics rather than 
law. I believe that here in Europe we might succeed in developing an 
ethical European alternative ("respect these requests") to a legalistic 
American approach ("these rights reserved"). Especially as the network's 
major role can be to suggest European policy that leads to directives 
that lead to harmonized laws throughout the Union.

Pamela McLean has agreed to host work on this proposal at her working 
group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningfromeachother/ Her key 
concept in life is "learning from each other" and she's especially 
interested in how we and ICT might support learning, especially in 
Africa, which is a wonderful land for thinking fresh. Paolo Pumilia is 
also active there. We invite all to join us, please send a blank message 
to learningfromeachother-subscribe at yahoogroups.com Roland, if you think 
this is a good idea, please ask people at your workshop to sign up for 
this group and get their permissions. This would be a great boost for us 
to help you! Also, the more openly that we write this proposal, the more 
partners, attention and good will we might attract.

Roland, best wishes in your work!
Please keep us posted!


Andrius Kulikauskas
Minciu Sodas
ms at ms.lt
+370 (5) 264 5950
+370 (699) 30003
Vilnius, Lithuania

Each letter sent to Learning From Each Other enters the PUBLIC DOMAIN unless it explicitly states otherwise http://www.ethicalpublicdomain.org  Please be kind to our authors! 

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