Talk:Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU statement of intent

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In November representatives from five European Wikimedia chapters – WMDE, WMUK, WMSE, WMNL and WMBE – met to discuss the possibility of working together on a piece of advocacy promoting change to EU legislation related to open access and copyright. Subject to respective board approvals the chapters agreed to work together under the banner of “Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU”.

The meeting resulted in the collaborative creation of a statement of intent (see the main page), outlining the three areas we would like to focus on, namely Freedom of panorama, public domain for public works, and the right to use orphan works.

Making the case

There are a few reasons why we believe this to be a positive course of action. If the changes outlined in the statement are successfully brought to fruition then there is great potential for the enrichment of Wikimedia projects with significant cultural and educational resources. The project could significantly raise the profile of Wikimedia chapters among those people who form policy and have influence in the cultural arena. And of course this type of cross-chapter collaboration is precisely the sort of thing that chapters are are well equipped to do.

Next steps

There are a series of actions that the group intends to take leading up to the Chapters Meeting in April in Berlin. These are:

  1. We will develop a pool of experts in this area who are able to speak with authority on the legal and copyright issues involved. The WMUK Chair, Michael Maggs, has agreed to join this pool to share his legal & IP knowledge as a recently-retired patent attorney. Others may also be appropriate.
  2. We will develop a shared database of contacts who are in positions of influence in our own countries, such as MEPs. Other open access-related groups will be included here.
  3. 23rd April is World Book and Copyright Day. Some press activity under the joint umbrella of the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group and the Wikimedia Chapters is suggested to promote the issue and press for appropriate change.
  4. Work is now in progress on encouraging other chapters within the EU to join the group, and we are hopeful of having 12 chapter signatures by the Wikimedia Chapters Meeting in April.

At a later stage the intention is to invite other organisations working to promote open access and open knowledge to join.

Board approvals

The statement has been shared with the respective chapter boards, and has so far been formally signed by WMSE, WMNL and WMFR. It is currently before the boards of WMDE and WMUK.

WMAT has also signed the statement. They are the first non-draftee chapter to do so.

Updated 13 December

Italy and Germany have now also signed the statement of intent, bringing the total number of signatories to six. Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 09:01, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Proposed approval by WMUK

The statement of intent was discussed at the the WMUK board meeting of 8th December (the minutes of which will be put on the wiki shortly), and the board was strongly supportive of this inter-chapter initiative. It has indicated its provisional willingness to sign, subject only to a period of community consultation. WMF staff are supportive.

The board is satisfied that there are no legal, contractual or other issues that would prevent us as a charity and Wikimedia chapter from undertaking this type of advocacy and taking a position on the inadequacies of copyright law as it currently exists in the EU.

Community discussion now open until 23rd December

We would like to hear whether you agree with the board that signing this statement of intent would advance our charitable aims and would be in the best interests of Wikimedia UK and the international Wikimedia movement.

Please focus the discussion on the statement as it stands, as the text has been agreed by five chapter representatives and would be very difficult to change.

This community consultation will run until 23rd December. If there are no material community objections the statement will be treated as having been approved and signed on the date of the board meeting, namely 8th December. If material objections are raised, the board will review them and will reconsider the charity's position shortly after Christmas. Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 13:05, 11 December 2013 (UTC)


Partnerships with other UK advocacy groups rather than duplicating effort

There are several other groups in the UK with years of experience and networks of keen volunteers with missions more directly targeted at open knowledge advocacy. In terms of WMUK's Mission statement, lobbying will remain tangential to the core mission for building and preserving content. In the UK Charity sector, trustees should seek ways of staying on-mission, including factoring out activities that other organizations can deliver at better cost, or have more experience and skill in delivering.

In this context it may be more efficient for WMUK to build positive cooperative partnerships with lobbying organizations rather that using its limited volunteer and employee resources to do the same things in parallel. In the past, the board has been invited to place some of its volunteers with advocacy teams/committees in other organizations and this may remain a useful strategy.

We should keep in mind that our track record over the last couple of years, including my personal experience in researching UK Government whitepapers and attempting to gain community feedback, shows that in terms of the numbers of Wikimedians with significant knowledge and presence on our projects, only a handful will ever be interested in reading up on EU policy, or presenting and proposing a position for Wikimedia UK or other chapters. Creating a "pool of experts" in reality may remain fewer than 3 or 4 unless the chapter employees are paid to take the place of volunteers doing the same thing. -- (talk) 13:17, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

It may be of interest to note that there is significant work taking place to create a closer network of groups working in the open knowledge arena. Wikimedia UK has taken a lead in making this happen through various initiatives such as a session that John Cummings and I delivered at MozFest, such as representing the charity at the Open Government Partnership summit. I've also presented at two events in the last couple of weeks related to this, such as the Nexters seminar at Somerset House and an event focused on educational and social technology - an event at which Simon Knight also presented. I'm also working to further the development of an "open coalition" of related organisations and work will accelerate in this field in January. Wikimedia UK is very much taking a lead in all of this and it's entirely appropriate that we do so. Besides that, it's also important that the chapter plays a role in the international movement and one of the ways that we can do this is by working to further our aims - supporting free and open knowledge, sharing the sum total of all human knowledge - in ways that the WMF isn't able to do because it doesn't have the local knowledge. It is no coincidence that on one hand we are bringing together Wikimedia chapters to closer collaboration while on the other we are bringing together groups working in the open space. It's all about amplifying impact. That's exactly what we're doing. Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 11:15, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
As a note, advocacy is also the one and only area that the chapter can seek additional funding from the WMF through the grant advisory committee. Seddon (talk) 02:42, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Closure of consultation

Thank you. Community consultation has now closed. The board will publish a statement early next month. Merry Christmas, all! --MichaelMaggs (talk) 17:08, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

The statement has been signed

I am pleased to announce that the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU's statement of intent is fully supported and has been signed by the board of WMUK. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:50, 1 January 2014 (UTC)


I know it's after the deadline for comments (sorry!), but I'm curious as to what "give start-ups a fairer chance" means and why it's been included here - it seems rather out of place. ("will democratise it" also seems out of place - does content like to be personified?) Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 17:38, 1 January 2014 (UTC)