Fighting Back Against Public Domain Erosion By Growing The Commons
from the don't-take-it-lying-down dept
But there's another way to fight back against that loss, as this Wikimedia Foundation project shows:
Wiki Loves Monuments was a crazy idea: ask people to get out of their houses and take a picture of the cultural heritage around them, of monuments and buildings! In September 2010, however, the idea proved far from crazy – 250 people participated in the Netherlands and submitted 12,500 photos. Last month, during the pan-European 2011 contest, we crushed that number.The key part is the "free license" required: judging by this rules page (in German), that seems to mean cc-by-sa. Strictly speaking, that's not public domain, but images released under this license can still be used very widely (including commercially.)
In the past few months, volunteers throughout Europe have worked hard to organize this public photo contest in 18 countries throughout Europe – from Portugal to Estonia – and with great success. More than 5,000 people participated, submitting an amazing 165,000 photos– all available under a free license, and usable on Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia and other places on the internet.
The Wiki Loves Monuments competition was a clever way to get people to contribute to this corner of the digital commons; but many people are happy to do that even without incentives. Flickr has just announced that over 200 million photos on its site have been released under a Creative Commons license. Now, it's true that 145 million of these permit only non-commercial use, but that still leaves 18 million under cc-by-sa, and 25 million under the even more liberal cc-by license.
Even if they don't compensate for what is effectively the government-sanctioned theft of the public domain around the world, these growing stores of cc-licensed images on Flickr and elsewhere show how it is possible for everyone to fight back, simply by creating and releasing works under permissive licenses – including, of course, placing them fully in the public domain.
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