Critical issues presentations/Commons, copyright and creators: why we should ask artists to share their work on commons

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy
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Submission no. 126
Title of the submission

Commons, copyright and creators: why we should ask artists to share their work on commons

Author of the submission
  • Michelle van Lanschot
  • Sandra Fauconnier
  • Hanno Lans
Country of origin

Netherlands; Netherlands; Netherlands


Outreach, Policy, Projects, Research

  • copyright
  • GLAM
  • artist
  • art
  • Creative Commons
  • contemporary art

Contemporary art and contemporary art history are missing on the Wikipedia projects, mainly because of strict copyright regulations. This presentation illustrates that (young) artists are actually not as rigidly opposed to sharing images of our work as right managing companies would have us believe. A possible answer of filling this contemporary art gap lies in approaching these artists directly and show them the benefits of sharing their work on Wikipedia. In the course of the presentation we will look into research on the influence of right managing companies on the copyright legislation and the financial position of artists (e.g. a report published by the Dutch Economic Council on the position of creative makers) and the state of copyright education on art schools based on our own findings in the Netherlands. It will also look into arguments young artists have against sharing their work under Creative Commons licenses taken from interviews that we held with creative makers and suggest how these arguments could be debunked and fear of sharing could be taken away.

The purpose of the presentation is twofold:

Firstly we want to generate a positive turnaround in thinking about copyright restrictions as a problem that can be solved by turning to the bases of it: the creative maker. By starting a dialogue with them and underlining positive aspects of sharing images under a free license, they can be won over to the free knowledge sharing side.

Secondly we hope the presentation will motivate different Wikimedians from different countries to form a coalition to work on this topic together. This coalition would make it possible to share information and practices, create momentum for this solution and tackle the issue on a greater scale.

By taking on this subject and taking copyright back to the makers and letting it be their choice again, Wikipedia could actively work towards diminishing the traditional power that is vested within rights management organisations and that is basically blocking the reform of copyright legislation to a law that fits the 21st century. Art schools (at least in the Netherlands) in many cases fail to provide a balanced course on the subject that illustrates all the possibilities that young artists have to make use of their copyright. Wikipedia as a movement has the bandwidth, capacity and influence to make this change happen from the grass roots up, as opposed to more policy oriented organisations such as Creative Commons that can only provide the tool for these changes. As the worldwide biggest user of Creative Commons we think it is up to the Wikipedia movement to make sure that the creative makers are aware of the possibilities and opportunities these licenses bring, exposure on one of the Wikipedia projects maybe being the greatest opportunity of them all.

The presentation is meant for people who are interested in solutions to copyright issues, GLAM topics, art, visual artists and international collaboration. Prior knowledge about copyright legislation is unnecessary, some knowledge of Creative Commons licenses and their use is helpful.


Not accepted