Submissions/Crazy Contentious Copyright Challenges Constraining Community Creativity

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2014.

Submission no. 2506
Title of the submission
Crazy Contentious Copyright Challenges Constraining Community Creativity
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
Yana Welinder (Legal Counsel, WMF) & Michelle Paulson (Legal Counsel, WMF)
E-mail address,
YWelinder (WMF); MPaulson (WMF)
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Wikimedia Foundation
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

There are many difficult copyright questions that come up when compiling the sum of all human knowledge. Has this image fallen into public domain in the the country of origin...everywhere? Is there sufficient originality in this derivative of a public domain image to warrant copyright protection? How many items on a top 100 pop songs list can I reproduce? Does this logo qualify for trademark protection, copyright protection, or both? This talk will disperse some common myths about copyright law that we have encountered over the years.

We will discuss how inconsistency in intellectual property laws across an international landscape creates challenges for a global movement. In particular, we will talk about specific copyright issues that the community had to face over and over this past year. We will talk about the impact of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) and the Golan v. Holder decision on projects like Wikisource. We will also address different freedom of panorama schemes found around the world and what that inconsistency means for Commons and other Wikimedia projects. Similarly, we will examine how differing fair use standards as well as fragmented recognition of database rights and sweat of the brow can be risky for reusers.

Last year, in particular, we saw a lot of community discussion about the copyright originality threshold as it applies to logos, medical images, and geometric shapes more broadly. This already knotty issue is further complicated because the applicable threshold varies from country-to-country. We will talk about how US copyright law addresses these questions.

We hope that this talk will explain the Wikimedia Foundation's position on many of these controversial topics, help clarify some of the more unsettled areas of law, and provide some guidance to the community as they tackle these challenges. In addition to discussing these questions, we will point to some resources that address these and similar issues.

  • Legal & Free Culture
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
60 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

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  1. Afterbrunel (talk) 11:26, 10 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
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  3. Aliterations Always Attract Attentive Attendees. MPelletier (WMF) (talk) 21:39, 19 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
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  20. --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 21:19, 7 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
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