Volunteers from Argentina have been among the most affected by the policy adopted by Wikimedia Commons administrators regarding images that could fall under URAA copyright provisions. Argentine copyright law provides that images enter the public domain “only” 25 years after their production and 20 after their first documented publication. This relatively generous criterion has enabled unaffiliated volunteers and we as Wikimedia Argentina to enrich Commons with hundreds of thousands of historical images that are absolutely free under Argentine law: images of the political and every day life of the country, of its culture, of its popular idols, of its joyful and dark days, of its customs and architecture.
However, over the last months certain Wikimedia Commons administrators have conducted massive deletions of these contents, in many cases involving entire categories. The burden of proof has been inverted: instead of having to justify the deletion of a certain file, things go that volunteers have to devote their time trying to justify the validity of their efforts. This has caused great damage, not only by way of our readers losing access to free educational contents, but also de-motivating many editors and volunteers by making them feel that their efforts are ultimately vain and that our goal of free knowledge for everyone is being replaced by a certain legal fetishism whose reason gets lost in processes and misses the outcome.
In an effort to comply with the Berne Convention, the URAA regranted copyright protection to some works that had been previously free to use. Unsurprisingly, it quickly faced vociferous legal challenges; the largest, Golan v. Holder, failed on the steps of the US Supreme Court in 2012. The conflict on Commons stems from the location of the Wikimedia Foundation's servers, which are used to host all of Commons' images and are in the US, making them subject to US laws. Compounding this are the several Wikipedias—including four of the top nine by article count—which outsource their local image hosting to Commons.
Argentina (flag pictured) has very liberal copyright laws—photographs enter the public domain just 25 years after creation and 20 years after first being published—and has therefore been been hit harder than other countries by the URAA deletions.
The issuing of the open letters prompted a response from the Foundation's Board of Trustees. Under "on content", the board's chair Jan-Bart de Vreedestated that "The WMF does not plan to remove any content unless it has actual knowledge of infringement or receives a valid DMCA takedown notice. To date, no such notice has been received under the URAA. We are not recommending that community members undertake mass deletion of existing content on URAA grounds, without such actual knowledge of infringement or takedown notices." An impromptu vote to restore all images deleted to comply with the URAA is currently underway, with a majority in support as of publishing time.
One oppose vote came from Lupo, who wrote that "The WMF has told us several times that all files hosted must be free in the U.S. And now we should ignore the URAA? A U.S. law, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court? Just because the WMF doesn't like it?" Odder, who also opposes the proposal, called back to Commons' core principles: "... files have to be released under a free licence or be in the public domain both in the country of origin and in the United States. Undeletion of files that are unfree in the US will be in direct contradiction to this core principle of ours." In supporting, ליאור wrote that "6.7 billion non-American people should not be affected by an extremist interpretation of an intra-American affair." Supporters have also suggested adding a URAA-specific disclaimer to affected images that would warn US content reusers that they could face legal action.
Picture of the Year: The Commons' annual Picture of the Year competition has moved into round two, which will end on 7 March.
New media viewer: The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is inviting users and readers to beta test a new media viewer that will allow users to view larger images on Wikimedia sites. According to Fabrice Florin, the Product Manager for Multimedia at the WMF, "... you can click on any image thumbnail to see it in large size, without visual clutter. You can see the file name and author credits at the bottom of the screen, and view more information in an expandable panel below the image. You can also expand the image to full screen, for a more immersive experience, or browse through all images in an article or gallery by clicking on the next and previous arrows."
WMF and advertising?: An article in the Economist, "WikiPeaks?", delves into where Wikipedia goes from here now that it has seemingly plateaued. In paragraphs on the Foundation's future executive director, the piece stated: "Last year [the WMF] raised $50m from donations and grants. The average reader donated 11 cents. [Sue Gardner's] replacement will have to decide whether to establish an endowment to help ensure future financial stability." An off-the-cuff remark from the WMF's Chief Revenue Officer Lisa Seitz Gruwell followed "And what about selling ads? 'I would never say never, but no,' [said Gruwell]." When asked about the quote, Jay Walsh, the Foundation's communications specialist, told the Signpost that this was a product of the article's editing process: "Lisa's comments were obviously pruned down from a wider discussion that covered a range of topics. ... This came after a discussion about the success of the current online fundraising model, and that the Foundation is successfully meeting its fundraising targets—another reason why advertising is not on the table. She also discussed and recognized the fact that advertising is entirely inappropriate for the project, given the Foundation's mission and the community's values."
Wikimania deadline approaches: The deadline to submit an official bid for Wikimania 2015 has been extended to 14 March 2014. As of publishing time, there are five unofficial bids, including Esino Lario, a small village in Italy; Bali, Indonesia; Cape Town, South Africa; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Monastir, Tunisia.
WikiProject clears backlog: In its monthly contest, the English Wikipedia's Disambiguation WikiProject has managed to clear February's top thousand most-linked disambiguation pages, making over ten thousand corrections in that time. The contest has been ongoing since November 2005. One comment on the Signpost's suggestion page praised the project's members: "So many of the problems with Wikipedia seem intractable and too large to tackle, but this is a great example of finding a way to make solving a problem fun and chipping away at it over years and having a truly meaningful effect."
WMF publishes monthly report: The Foundation's monthly report for December 2013 has been published on Meta, with highlights appearing on a separate page.
Program Evaluation Community Coordinator: The WMF is calling for applicants for the position of Program Evaluation Community Coordinator. The person hired for the position will "act as an entry point for a global community of program leaders to get answers to questions about program evaluation in the context of Wikimedia programs, the process of getting to consistent and meaningful measures of success, and how to use program evaluation in order to improve program results and to drive longterm impact."