Volume 2 • Issue 7 • August 2018
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Regional report: Interview with Dimitar Dimitrov
- Interview by: Vassia Atanassova, 13 August 2018
Hello, Dimi! Many people in the CEE region know you as the representative of the Wikimedia Foundation in the European Parliament. Tell us more about the dramatic vote in the European Parliament on 5 July, which was preceded by some language versions of Wikipedia in EU shutting down for a couple of days. What was the story behind?
- Firstly, I want to clarify that I am rather a representative of the European chapters and communities to the EU. The project to work on EU policy in Brussels is financed by the European organisations with their own, non-WMF sourced, funds. Most EU based communities that don't have the financial resources to contribute, still participate by helping with the actual policy work. I am quite proud of this decentralised and European approach.
- As to the vote on 5 July, it was the perhaps last chance to change the direction of a copyright reform that will define the framework in Europe for at least a decade to come. Originally the European Commission wanted to update the copyright rules so they make sense online. They had realised that having 28 territorial copyright regimes but only one internet doesn't work very well. Plus, the current framework has been initially drafted in the late 1990s, so before the wikis, blogs and social media.
- So the original intention came from a correct consideration, but then the actual proposal was both unbalanced and unambitious. It came with new exclusive rights for rightsholders and provisions to curtail the sharing of user-generated content, but delivered almost nothing to make users' everyday online experiences more compatible with copyright law. The text that was finally rejected on 5 July would have made user-generated projects harder to establish, would have made annotated bibliographies on Wikipedia harder to publish and didn't address basic needs like Freedom of Panorama or fair use. It would have been a reform looking backwards and making online life more controlled, in the sense of cable television and traditional media.
Who is the big winner and the big loser from the proposed controversial legislative changes?
- The big winners would have been the music majors and the currently dominant online platforms. It is a reform that aims at regulating their interactions, thereby forgetting almost all other stakeholders online. And once the legislative framework is made to accommodate the business models of two main groups, it becomes much harder for everyone else to exist independently of them.
What is the position of the Wikimedia Foundation regarding the EU copyright reform? What is the message every user and editor of Wikipedia should be aware of?
- Again, I carefully avoid to speak of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia Deutschland, Wikimedia Estonia or any other individual group in public policy discussions. For me we are one movement and need to have, as much as possible, one vision. I do believe we are being quite successful in speaking with a united voice when it comes to public policy.
- The key message and the key criticism for us is that we should not forget the users when it comes to copyright and regulating the internet. Instead of thinking only about media houses and big online platforms, we should be trying to protect and advance the rights and freedoms of users and decentralised projects. We should be thinking about the public domain instead of only extending exclusive IP rights. We should be thinking of how to pave the way for more user created and controlled platforms like Wikipedia. We should be working to redecentralised the internet, instead of passing laws that would enshrine its current centralised state.
- Bottom line is that the current reform proposal only thinks of big commercial platforms and traditional content providers. It almost completely forgets about users. This is not right and needs to be changed.
If the controversial amendments do get voted in the end of the day, what will change for Wikipedia and the free knowledge/culture sector?
- To put it bluntly, we believe that if these proposals had been law when Wikipedia was first founded, it could have never developed as it has. We want a world in which new free knowledge projects like ours are possible and where in a couple of years some new community can stun us with an awesome new way to share knowledge. This is much less likely when legislation is written with only the few dominant market leaders in mind.
- Article 13 and the change of the intermediary liability regime would have required UGC platform the prefilter everything their users post. Even with a "Wikipedia exception" to this rule, we believe that requiring platforms to delete any content that rightholders have marked as infringing before it even appears is a threat to freedom of expression and privacy.
- Additionally, the new exclusive right allowing press publishers to restrict the use of news snippets will make it more difficult to access and share information about current events in the world, making it harder for Wikipedia contributors to find citations for articles online.
- And finally, the proposal does not support user rights, it is missing strong safeguards for the public domain, and does not create exceptions that would truly empower people to participate in research and culture.
In the region of Central and Eastern Europe, there are EU member states, that will be directly affected from the copyright reforms. How will the rest countries in the region (or in the world) get influenced?
- We have seen in the past that the standards the EU and the US establish often become the global benchmark. This is also directly true for the EU and many of the CEE countries. EU rules can be spread out through association and free trade agreements, but they serve as an example. If, for example, EU press publishers get a new exclusive right, this is usually a strong argument for, let's say, Georgian publishers to go their government and demand the same. The same could also apply in a positive direction. If we manage to establish a public domain safeguard in the EU, then this change could also be copied to other countries in the CEE region.
The next milestone is in September. What is supposed to happen then?
- The European Parliament is supposed to vote on the copyright reform text in plenary on 12 September. Until then we will have to make sure that new amendments to the text have been proposed (deadline: 5 September). This is the Brussels team's top priority currently. We can be sure we will have decent proposals on fixing Articles 13 (uplaod pre-filtering) and 11 (new exclusive right for news articles). We will also have proposals for exceptions like freedom of panorama and user-generated content. We need to make sure these are supported by as many MEPs from different groups as possible. Then there will be a vote that by simple majority will establish the new position of the European Parliament. After that the EP will start negotiating with the Council (Member States governments).
How can and should local communities act coordinatedly in order to promote the position of the Wikimedia Foundation?
- Again, please avoid talking about the position of the (US based) Wikimedia Foundation on this. In a EU debate this can only hurt us. We are a global community and global projects with a very strong presence in Europe. Let's focus on that!
- Getting in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org), the WMF (email@example.com) or your local affiliate is always a good idea.
- We have drafted an opinion piece that could be translated and localised and published in each community's blog, but could also be placed as an opinion by the respective user-group or chapter in the media. We are happy to assist with that.
- Once this is done, we could use this opinion piece as an excuse to contact MEPs from the countries that are in the EU. This is usually a very soft way to start a conversation as the only ask is "read what we wrote".
- Once the new amendments are on the table after 5 September, we should then let all our media and MEP contacts know which ones we support.
- We are very happy to help with each of these tasks, so don't be scared to get in touch!
Albania report: Photowalk, institutional agreements and "KinoCitat"
- By Margott
Our August started with City Photo Walk. We organized a 2 day tour in different cities of Kosova. The participants were allowed to take any picture around the city that they find interesting and upload it on Commons. So far we have 412 pictures uploaded. Now us, the organizers, will choose the best pictures, and for the first place we will give an Polaroid camera. The picture can be found here.
The same Photo city walk will be hosted in different cities in Albania, in October.
The preparation for Wiki Loves Monuments are almost done, and we are ready to launch the campaign for both, Albanian and Kosova. We are proud to say that we as a supporter we have National Museum of Kosova, Ministry of Culture of Albania and the National Institute of Monuments in Albania. Also the venue for the exhibition and the closing ceremony with the winners will be hosted at the Ministry of Culture in Albania.
We have also have sign an agreement with Museum of Kosova to have an Wikipedia corner at their institution. And also to help them digitalis their information and multimedia material. We are doing the same with the Albanian Historic Museum.
Also, we have collaborated with Authority for Information on the Documents of ex - Secret Service in Albania, and the director of this institution Genta Sula helped one of our members Kristina, with a lot of information about biographies of ex convicted, about the camp and the historic story behind it. All the articles are already open in Sq wikipedia, and we will work to be soon into English one as well. We will soon upload the pictures taken during the event organized by Authority for Information on the Documents of ex - Secret Service.
There is one new projects on Wikiquote called KinoCitat- which aims to collect quotes from different movies. And the Wiki Harry Potter group has reached 21 good articles and 3 features ones. We are also running a administrator selection for Wikibooks since theres none till now.
Macedonia report: Wikicity tour in Kočani and Vinica
- By Македонец
On 19th of August, the first tour of the WikiCity project has been conducted in Kočani and Vinica, two close cities in the eastern part of Macedonia. Considering the main idea of this project to take photographs of the cities, their historical landmarks, important and notable buildings which are home of institutions as well as part of the cultural heritage, we came up with the idea to organize a joint tour with the bicycle crew "Milton Manaki" which regularly make tours visiting cultural and natural sites attended by cyclists who are also amateur and semi-professional photographers sharing a lot of decent quality images on the social media. On a bright sunny, although very hot day, dozen participants with four cars traveled to Kočani where the 50 kilometers long tour started firstly visiting the city of Kočani's landmarks including the municipal building, medieval (guard) tower, church of St. George, Monument of the Freedom with the well known mosaic, Center of Culture and old traditional houses in the historic city center finishing with the Railway station which is the last and easternmost train terminal in Macedonia built in the early thirties of XX century. The group then headed to the town of Vinica which is located only 10 kilometers south of Kočani. In Vinica after a several photo shoots of the new main square, municipal building, the new church, kindergarten, Center of Culture and Library, the group was welcomed by the director of the Museum of Vinica where they were given a tour in the Museum as well as on the archeological site of Viničko Kale (Vinica Fortress) on the hill at the outskirts of the town where the well known early Christian terracotta icons have been found. The tour continued through several villages on the foothills of Plačkovica mountain to the village of Morodvis where the archaeological site of the early Byzantine city of Morobizdon with the ruins of the important episcopal and basilica buildings are found. Riding through several other villages in the valley of Bregalica river on a beautiful landscape with plenty of rice fields with ripe rice ready to be harvested the tour ended up at the starting point in Kočani. Throughout the entire tour participants have been instructed about Wikipedia, uploading images on the Wikimedia Commons and also they were reading existing Wikipedia articles about the sites and places that had been visited. In the forthcoming period after they will upload all of the images they have taken on this Wikicity tour editing activities are planed for the images to be used.
Russia report: Educational wiki-master-classes at International "Selet" forum
- By Тимерхан
This summer I organized 4 master classes (2 at 6th July & 2 at 17th July) at Selet International Educational Forum. Total coverage of master classes: about 100 children from Tatarstan and other regions of Russia. I also invited boys & girls to take part in autumn session of Selet WikiSchool.
My master class consisted of two parts: theory and practice. In the first part, I told children about the history and development of Wikipedia, the principles of Wikimedia RU, the development of the Tatar Wikipedia (my presentatio: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:МК_Вики_дөньясы.pdf ). During the practical part participants divided into 4 groups, were given the task to draft a Wiki article on the book issued to them. The task was given 15 minutes, after that groups presented their work.
Next step - autumn educational session of Selet WikiSchool.