Wikimedia Venezuela/Open letter from WMVE regarding URAA

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Los Teques, February 24, 2014

We, the members of Wikimedia Venezuela, after having read the open letter to the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation issued by our fellow chapter Wikimedia Israel on January 28, 2014 and the subsequent position published by Wikimedia España on its open letter dated February 19, 2014, regarding the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA)- an Act of the United States of America - and its negative effects on freedom of knowledge, echoing the concerns of Wikimedia Israel and agreeing to the positions set in addition by Wikimedia Spain, and agreeing with all these reasons, we express openly our full adherence to both.

While Venezuela Wikimedia believes in the right of all authors to earn profit out of their own work, we also believe that the excessive extension of copyright beyond the current limits is a disproportionate measure which violates the right to free knowledge without ensuring any real benefit to the authors. It seems unethical and lacking all moral that people unrelated to the authorship of a work, becomes able to obtain an economic benefit from the work of those who have died 100 years ago. This implies the disappearance from the public domain of works that are invaluable for the culture and universal knowledge.

The U.S. Congress basically decided to give the rights of works already in the public domain - and all the vast expression of rights that go along with it - with the hope that this could put more economic income in the pockets of the U.S. copyright holders, not to mention further innumerable works by authors who have no heirs, works by anonymous authors and even works of authors who never had interest in claiming their copyright and which are currently abandoned and possibly damaged to the point of being irreparable, they cannot be recovered to increase universal knowledge. We are concerned in Wikimedia Venezuela about this decision based primarily on the economic benefit of a few, but it affects all humanity.

The fact that the servers hosting Wikimedia Commons, the largest repository of freely usable media files ever created, are located in the United States of America, aggravates this situation because many files would have to be removed and some users have already suggested the removal of valuable historical and artistic content in terms of this repository that belongs to us all. The Wikimedia Foundation, in its response to Wikimedia Israel, has recommended not to proceed with the mass removal of existing content based on the URAA until there is actual knowledge of the violation of this law. However, we believe that the Wikimedia Foundation should find a legal way to keep content that may not necessarily be in the Public Domain in the U.S. in the Commons servers, as it is a local law that is affecting our projects globally and ranging in against the most basic principles of our movement. From Wikimedia Venezuela, we express our support for searching a solution that allows to maintain the highest possible amount of free content without risk of legal backlash.

We are committed to make known our position on this issue, and express our most sincere support to our brothers at Wikimedia Israel.

Sincerely,
Wikimedia Venezuela