Wikimedia España/Letter to the BoT regarding URAA

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We, the members of Wikimedia España, the chapter of the Wikimedia movement in Spain, support the concerns expressed by our fellow Wikimedia Israel and other places around the World about the legal norm known as URAA. That norm, based on the legal status quo, has the effect of extending the copyright of cultural works for periods even longer than those already in force.

We do not object in any way to the right of people to live out of the results of their work, be it in manufacturing, service industries, agriculture or any other human activity, but those works form the core of culture as the sum of human knowledge, and their use by all Mankind has to be protected too. While it is entirely understandable that painters, writers or photographers have the right to sustain themselves with their works, it is not reasonable that people who did not author anything should be allowed to make money out of the works of people who died fifty, seventy-five or even hundred years before.

Furthermore it has to be taken into account that under the excuse of protecting the authors' rights, an unduly burden has been charged on the users of works of unknown authors, anonymous works or the ones of people who simply did not intend to claim any right at any time at all. The Uruguay Round Agreements were negotiated by 123 countries. Somebody who came across some anonymous work that could be dated somewhen in the last century, could be required to find that person among the more than seven billion people on Earth, to avoid a violation of some state copyright law.

Another aspect that URAA does not pay attention to is the fact that many works remain unattended. When talking about books, it means that they are not reprinted and are not available anymore. But it does not mean that somebody could just reprint them in order to make them known to the public. In that way people can neither buy copies of works nor make them themselves. Who is profiting by that? In other cases, photographs, pictures, rolls of film, etc., just sit rotting -literally in some cases- in storerooms, not only forgotten, also forbidden. Is there any benefit from it?

So, in spite of all legal terms, we, the Wikimedians from Spain, support not just our Israeli companions, but the right of all the Human Race to have a chance to enjoy what has been done by authors. And so we expect the Wikimedia Foundation, as a provider of free knowledge sources, will do their best and fight for the shortest copyright terms possible, restricted as closely as possible to the author's lifetime.

Yours sincerely,

Wikimedia Spain