Submissions/Access to Knowledge and Wikipedia Zero

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2014.

Submission no. 2501
Title of the submission
Access to Knowledge and Wikipedia Zero
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
BJ Ard (Postdoctoral Associate in Law and Thomson Reuters Fellow, Information Society Project at Yale Law School) & Yana Welinder (Legal Counsel for Wikipedia Zero; Junior Affiliate Scholar, Stanford Center for Internet & Society)
E-mail address &
BJArd & YWelinder (WMF)
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Yale Law School, Wikimedia Foundation, Stanford Center for Internet & Society.
Personal homepage or blog
BJ Ard:, Yana Welinder:,
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

This talk will discuss Wikipedia’s role in the access to knowledge (A2K) movement. Wikipedia not only provides free knowledge on practically every subject to anyone who has an Internet connection, but also provides a platform for large segments of the population to play an active role in the creation of knowledge. Wikipedia Zero seeks to make Wikipedia even more accessible by providing people in the Global South with free data to access Wikipedia on their phones.

This talk will first outline the A2K movement, a global movement with the goal of equipping more people to enjoy the benefits of the world’s knowledge and to participate directly in the creation of knowledge. We will discuss the tension between the A2K approach to information and more traditional, exclusionary approaches to intellectual property protection. In particular, we will focus on the legal and economic frameworks – including free licensing and commons-based production – that many A2K projects use in lieu of traditional IP protections, discussing how these frameworks facilitate the creation, distribution, and improvement of Wikipedia’s free educational content.

We will then specifically discuss the Wikipedia Zero project, which strives to extend access to Wikipedia to those in the developing world who face barriers to access due to factors such as poverty and limited Internet connectivity. Many people in the Global South have access to the Internet only via their phones, with their usage constrained by the data charges that apply to their browsing. The Wikipedia Zero project works to make information freely available to this segment of the world community by facilitating access to Wikipedia free of data charges, with the further goal of providing the opportunity for editors from previously quiet regions to become active contributors. We will conclude by relating the Wikipedia Zero project and similar initiatives to the broader A2K movement.

Legal & Free Culture
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
60 minutes
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Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

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