Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts by Geoff Brigham

Making a change to our Terms of Use: Requirements for disclosure

English

Today, we’re making an important change to our Terms of Use. This change will clarify and strengthen the prohibition against concealing paid editing on all Wikimedia projects.

Half a billion people use Wikipedia every month as their source of knowledge. Wikipedia’s community editors work tirelessly at maintaining the accuracy, transparency, and objectivity of the articles, which requires identifying conflicts of interests and removing bias. Editing-for-pay can be a source of such bias, particularly when the edits are promotional in nature, or in the interest of a paying client. The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to continuing to support the Wikipedia community’s efforts to keep articles free of promotional content.

What’s changing?

This change adds a new subsection to Section 4, Refraining from Certain Activities, on “Paid Contributions without Disclosure.” The Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation has issued a letter explaining the change. We have also prepared an FAQ that helps explain how the change applies in specific instances. We encourage you to read the full update, letter, and FAQ, but the most important points are:

  • If you edit as a volunteer and for fun, nothing changes. Please keep editing! You’re part of an amazing community of volunteers contributing to an unprecedented resource of free information available to the whole world.
  • If you are employed by a gallery, library, archive, museum (GLAM), or similar institution that may pay employees to make good faith contributions in your area of expertise and not about your institution, you are also welcome to edit! The FAQ provides more guidance on when you should provide disclosure.
  • If you are paid to edit, you will need to disclose your paid editing to comply with the new Terms of Use. You need to add your affiliation to your edit summary, user page, or talk page, to fairly disclose your perspective. You’ll want to read the FAQ to learn more.
  • If you are paid to edit, other rules beyond the Terms of Use may also apply. Specific policies on individual Wikimedia projects, or relevant laws in your country (such as those prohibiting fraudulent advertising), may require further disclosure or prohibit paid advocacy editing altogether. Details on the legal issues and risk associated with undisclosed paid advocacy editing may be found in this FAQ.
  • Individual Wikimedia projects may discuss and implement alternative disclosure policies appropriate to their particular needs, as explained at greater length in the FAQ.

Why are we making a change?

As explained in October of 2013, we believe that undisclosed paid advocacy editing is a black hat practice that can threaten the trust of Wikimedia’s volunteers and readers. We have serious concerns about the way that such editing affects the neutrality and reliability of Wikipedia.

The change to the Terms of Use will address these concerns in a variety of ways. First, it will help educate and explain to good-faith editors how they may continue to edit in the spirit of the movement and mission, through simple disclosure of their affiliation. Second, it will empower the community to address the issue of paid editing in an informed way by helping identify edits that should receive additional scrutiny. Finally, it will provide an additional tool to the community and Foundation to enforce existing rules about conflicts of interest and paid editing.

How did we make the change?

The Terms of Use sets out rules for how nearly half a billion monthly users engage with Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. The current Terms of Use are the result of an extensive community collaboration in 2011.

We periodically review the Terms to ensure they are responsive to changes in the law and on the Wikimedia projects. To address community and Board concerns about paid editing, the Foundation proposed an amendment to the existing Terms of Use in February of this year. The Terms of Use already prohibited “deceptive activities,” such as misrepresentation, impersonation, and fraud. The original proposal was intended to help ensure compliance with these rules by requiring any users who “receive or expect to receive” direct compensation for their edits to disclose their employer, client, and affiliation.

Throughout February and March, the Wikimedia community extensively discussed the issue of undisclosed paid editing, resulting in 320,000 words of discussion in various languages and 6.3 million views of the proposal. The discussion was overwhelmingly supportive of the change. It also provided constructive criticisms that helped refine the amendment, and led us to improve our planned FAQ to provide more context and better examples.

At the meeting of the WMF Board of Trustees in April, members of the Board reviewed the change and results of the public consultation. After their discussion, they approved the amendment. The Wikimedia Foundation will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the amendment, and remain open to changes as necessary to improve it.

What happens next?

This change is effective immediately. We are notifying all users with banner messages on all Wikimedia projects.

If you have any comments, or would like to discuss this change further, please join the conversation on the Meta talk page for the Terms of Use.

Thanks everyone who has contributed to the discussion on this important issue. Your concerns elevated and clarified the issue in a manner that helped improve the original proposed amendment. Your input and feedback ensured a strong, yet appropriate, policy that we expect will strengthen the projects overall.

Stephen LaPorte, Legal Counsel

Luis Villa, Deputy General Counsel

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

 

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PRISM, government surveillance, and Wikimedia: Request for community feedback

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English

Last week, news outlets published information about a U.S. government internet surveillance program called PRISM[1] that reportedly enables the U.S. government to directly collect personal information from the servers of certain U.S.-based service providers.[2] Most of the service providers that were allegedly involved have denied participating in PRISM,[3] but President Obama appears to have acknowledged and defended the existence of the program.

Uncertainty and open questions persist about the nature and scope of PRISM. These public reports, and the conflicts among them, have raised concerns in the Wikimedia community, including at the Wikimedia Foundation.

Where we stand

The Wikimedia Foundation has not received requests or legal orders to participate in PRISM, to comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), or to participate in or facilitate any secret intelligence surveillance program. We also have not “changed” our systems to make government surveillance easier, as the New York Times has claimed is the case for some service providers.[4]

Why we care

Freedom of speech and access to information are core Wikimedia values. These values can be compromised by surveillance: editors and readers understandably are less willing to write and inform themselves as honestly and freely. Put simply, “rights of privacy are necessary for intellectual freedom.”

In addition, while PRISM is a United States government program, the global nature of internet traffic, and the alleged sharing of surveillance information between governments, means that Internet users around the world are potentially affected. Because of this, we feel an obligation to our entire global community of contributors and readers to further understand (and possibly respond to) this issue.

Consultation and action

Because of the many open questions about PRISM, and the potential importance of this issue to our core values, we feel it is appropriate to consult with the Wikimedia community about what next steps we might take.[5] In our opinion, governments must be transparent to their publics. This transparency is essential to our ability (and that of other like-minded organizations) to determine whether a legal or constitutional challenge is appropriate in a case like this.

Mozilla, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, and the Center for Democracy and Technology, among many others, have begun to work together on this issue. They have started by preparing an open letter to the U.S. Congress, calling for transparency, investigation, reform, and accountability, and have asked individuals and other interested organizations—like the Wikimedia Foundation—to join them.

As we see it, we have an important role to play in helping ensure protections for free expression and access to information as it relates to our mission.  We accordingly feel that the Wikimedia Foundation should collaborate with these organizations, and possibly others, and join in their effort to demand that the government account for and explain its internet surveillance programs.

That said, we want to hear from you on these topics before we take any action. Should we join with these organizations in their public statements and efforts as they relate to the Wikimedia community’s values and mission? Please leave your thoughts at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/PRISM. We will consider all feedback, but, because events are moving quickly, we feel we need to make a decision on this by June 21, 2013.[6]

With our thanks,
Geoff Brigham
General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation
[7]

[We are professionally translating this blog post and feedback page into German, French, Spanish and Japanese and hope to post by Tuesday.  With our appreciation, we ask the international Wikimedia community to help in translating this blog post and the feedback page (which are almost the same) into other languages, as well as people’s feedback given throughout the course of this consultation period.]

Notes

  1. The Washington Post and The Guardian broke the story on June 6.
  2. An early report alleged remarkable breadth of data accessible under the program. CNET has since reported, however, that the program at least involves some formalized and particularized process.
  3. TechCrunch has published denials from eight allegedly-involved organizations.
  4.  Surveillance is possible without our cooperation. As a result, snooping on general internet traffic by governments or others may affect our contributors and readers. To help block this, Wikimedia sites are already reachable under HTTPS, and installing HTTPS Everywhere makes this the default. We are working toward increasingly making HTTPS the default both for readers and logged-in users without the need to install an extension. Updates will be posted to our engineering blog.
  5. As you may know, the Wikimedia community worked with the Wikimedia Foundation to put together a policy on the Foundation’s association with certain political or policy issues. It applies when, among other things, the Wikimedia Foundation seeks to collaborate with other organizations to take action on a particular policy or political question.  Under this policy, community consultation is highly valued.
  6. This proposal is intended only to address the participation of the Wikimedia Foundation and is not intended to restrict other Wikimedians from acting in their personal capacity.
  7. Special thanks to the entire LCA team for their hard work in helping research and draft this blog post, with my special appreciation to Luis Villa, Deputy General Counsel; Matthew Collins, Legal Intern; and Stephen LaPorte, Legal Counsel.

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The recent UK report and movement governance

As part of the Wikimedia movement, there are entities such as chapters, the Wikimedia Foundation, thematic organizations, and user groups, established to support our shared global mission of freely sharing educational content. With the growth of these organizations comes a need for “good governance” — a recognition that movement entities are stewards for our contributors, donors and developers, who generously donate their time, expertise and money to promote the Wikimedia movement. Our organizations are called upon to use resources efficiently and carry out official positions for the benefit of the community. When they do not, they hurt the trust of the movement.

Last month, the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia UK announced the release of the final report and recommendations regarding the governance of Wikimedia UK. The review was conducted by Compass Partnership, a noted management consultant company with particular expertise in evaluating nonprofit organizations. Although the report includes highly specific recommendations to be implemented by Wikimedia UK, as a whole, it suggests several foundational themes that may be broadly applicable to all movement organizations. Each of us (including myself) who holds positions entrusted by our community may benefit from the learnings of the report. The following ones are worth consideration by all of us in Wikimedia organizations.

  • Maintain Respect and Professionalism. According to the UK report, strong and effective relationships are an essential ingredient of any movement involving multiple organizations in dispersed territories and cultures. To foster effective relations among Wikimedia groups, the report recommends that communications within the movement be respectful and professional. It also suggests that this tone should be set and modeled by those in entrusted positions in the movement – such as trustees, executives and employees. We need not avoid controversy and disagreement, but respectful and professional behavior benefits the community as a whole. It ensures we are talking about and solving issues that benefit the community in a constructive, objective and productive way.[1]
  • Keep Roles Within the Movement Separate from Your Personal Interests. The report suggests that, to best serve the movement, community members should keep their Wikimedia organizational roles separate from their own personal interests. For example, a trustee should never use that position within the movement to advance their own financial interest. Similarly, when individuals within the movement are acting in their personal capacity, for their own benefit, they should not rely on their Wikimedia title or office in any way, and they should be clear about it.[2]
  • Be Transparent With Regard to Conflicts of Interest and Cooperate in Resolving Them. As many of you may know, the WMF Board is currently considering the proposed “Guidelines on the Disclosure of Potential and Actual Conflicts of Interest in Requesting Movement Resources,” which were developed through a six-week consultation period with the community. The guidelines encourage community members to disclose actively their potential conflicts of interest when requesting Wikimedia resources, and also provide guidance regarding (1) what circumstances may constitute a conflict of interest, and (2) when to disclose such circumstances to the appropriate decision-maker within the movement. The community’s efforts to improve the handling of conflicts of interest are recognized in the UK report. The report specifically discusses these guidelines and highlights their value in providing a framework for the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest so that they may be fully evaluated and managed.

    The UK report explains that, in a charitable organization, the highest standards should be followed in managing conflicts. If an employee, officer or trustee of a movement entity believes there is any possibility that they present a potential or actual conflict of interest, this should be raised immediately with the appropriate decision-maker. Furthermore, the employee, officer, or trustee should be forthcoming and transparent with regard to all relevant facts, so the appropriate decision-maker may fully assess the potential conflict.[3]

  • Go Beyond the Minimum Requirements of Law. Finally, the report recognizes that the demands and values of the worldwide Wikimedia movement call for us all to hold ourselves to the highest standard, going beyond the basic legal requirements.

    The WMF Board encouraged as much in its Resolution on Organizational Best Practices, suggesting that “every organization in our movement must go beyond local regulatory requirements and adopt our movement’s unique principles and best practices around governance, transparency, and accountability.” In the words of the Board, movement resources should be used “to achieve the highest possible impact in the pursuit of our vision.”[4]

By considering these principles as they may apply to us individually, or the particular Wikimedia entities that we serve, we all have the opportunity to embrace our values while supporting a Wikimedia movement that mandates the highest of standards. As I believe we all agree, our community deserves nothing less.

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation

Notes:

  1. For Compass Partnership’s specific recommendations on respectful and professional communication, see Recommendation 4.4, paragraph 43; Recommendation 4.5, introductory paragraph; and Recommendation 4.5, paragraph 46 of the final report.
  2. For Compass Partnership’s specific recommendations on separating one’s Wikimedia position from one’s personal interests, see Recommendation 4.4, paragraphs 27, 30, and 41 of the final report.
  3. For Compass Partnership’s specific recommendations on transparency and the management of conflicts of interest, see Recommendation 4.4,, paragraphs 26, 27, and 29; and Recommendation 4.5, paragraph 48 of the final report.
  4. For Compass Partnership’s specific recommendations on going beyond the minimum requirements of law, see the Introduction of the final report.

A victory for Wikivoyage and free knowledge

Settlement of litigation between Internet Brands and the Wikimedia Foundation

Today we are pleased to announce a settlement in the legal proceedings between the Wikimedia Foundation and Internet Brands relating to issues stemming from the creation of Wikivoyage, our community’s newest free knowledge project. We regard this settlement as a victory for the Wikimedia movement, and a vindication of our values and beliefs.

Our community expressed a strong desire to create a new, freely shareable, non-commercial travel wiki project. In response, Internet Brands (owners of a for-profit wiki-based travel project) sued two Wikimedians visibly involved in supporting the travel wiki project. Internet Brands branded the proposed new site an “Infringing Website” and claimed that the volunteers were acting “for the benefit of the Wikimedia Foundation” to “usurp” the community of users of Internet Brands’ site and taking actions that included “deliberately misleading statements, and Trademark infringement and violation of Internet Brands’ intellectual property rights.” Internet Brands identified the “Wikimedia Foundation, members of its Board, and other members of the Foundation” as potential “co-conspirators” who were “corrupt in this scheme”.

Unintimidated, the Foundation moved in to defend our volunteers and to protect our community’s right to an open and meaningful discussion about the project.

We contacted one of the most respected law firms working in this field, Cooley LLP, and asked that they represent and defend the two volunteers facing legal action from Internet Brands. Cooley was engaged, and with our financial support, the volunteers moved the case to federal court and also filed an anti-SLAPP motion against Internet Brands, alleging that their freedom to openly discuss the project was under threat. Internet Brands responded by abandoning its federal claim, essentially admitting it had no factual basis. The federal court then dismissed all of Internet Brands’ remaining claims.

Meanwhile, in September 2012 the Wikimedia Foundation filed its own lawsuit against Internet Brands seeking a declaration from the court that Internet Brands had no proper basis to block the travel wiki project.

The settlement was signed on February 14, 2013, and Internet Brands has now released the Foundation and Wikivoyage e.V. (the German not for profit who worked so hard to make the project a success) from any and all claims related in any manner to the creation and operation of the travel wiki project. In return, the Foundation will dismiss the suit.

Wikivoyage is now officially launched and growing, with about 9000 new entries added in the first month, and new language versions in Polish, Romanian, Finnish, Hungarian, Chinese and Japanese being opened.

The Wikimedia Foundation believes there is enough room for multiple travel sites to co-exist, and for community members to contribute to multiple sites in this area. Our Executive Director, Sue Gardner, outlined this perspective in a post to the original travel project discussion. We have stood by this belief from the beginning, and we believe that a successful, freely-shareable, non-commercial travel project will help support the overall quantity and quality of travel information on the web.

We thank and recognize our global community of volunteers, particularly the pioneers of the Wikivoyage project for their dedication and focus in making the project possible. I want to thank my colleagues at the Foundation in many different departments for their hard work on this case. We are also grateful to our friends at Cooley LLP for their continuous support, tireless dedication, and outstanding legal counsel through these challenges.

It’s now possible for the Wikivoyage community to continue their efforts to build a global free-knowledge travel site unhindered. We wish them the best of luck and look forward to working closely with the Wikivoyage community as the project grows and thrives.

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

Naming of new Wikimedia movement entities

As many in the Wikimedia community are aware, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Directors recently approved the creation of new models of affiliation known as thematic organizations and user groups. Thematic organizations are incorporated independent nonprofits that will support work focusing on a specific topic area within or across countries, regions and languages with certain permissions to use WMF marks. User groups are open membership groups which are granted limited use of Wikimedia marks for publicity related to events and projects. Both types of entities are unprecedented structures within the movement, and have the potential to move our mission forward in constructive and innovative ways.

One important feature of the new movement entity is the name under which it will operate, which is a key means for how it will present itself not just to the Wikimedia community but to the public. You can find my initial thoughts on naming the Thematic organizations talk page here and I’ve elaborated on those thoughts here. Other views can be found elsewhere on the talk page.

The new entities will help represent the movement and so the decisions we make in these initial stages may be of interest to many. In recognition of the fact that our community consists of many thoughtful and diverse voices, we invite and encourage everyone to participate in the discussion on naming models for new entities.

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia community input requested for conflict of interest guidelines

Wikimedia community members are encouraged to offer comments and suggestions for proposed new guidelines relating to conflicts of interest. These guidelines, which we hope to present to the Wikimedia Foundation Board for adoption, would establish the minimum standards to be upheld by everyone who requests Wikimedia movement resources, such as grants or permission to use WMF trademarks.

All community input is appreciated, and we anticipate incorporating many suggestions into the final guidelines. Our goal is that these guidelines will ensure that people proactively disclose potential conflicts related to their requests, so that decisions related to the allocation of movement resources can be made fairly and objectively.[1]

Generally, mismanaged personal interests resulting in potential conflicts of interest can hurt our movement, both in reputation and financially. The proposed guidelines seek to encourage full disclosure of personal and financial interests with respect to people’s requests for movement resources. The guidelines help ensure that those movement resources — like grants, staff time, scholarships, trademark licenses, travel reimbursements, fellowships, employment, and conference resources — are used in pursuit of our mission. The guidelines apply to requests for resources from movement entities, groups, associations, or persons, such as the Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, thematic organizations, movement partners, user groups, Wiki Loves Monuments, GLAM organizations and Wikipedians in Residence. The guidelines are not comprehensive or exhaustive. They are intended to support existing movement values and conflict of interest policies, which may require recusal or other ways of managing the conflict.[2]

Importantly, the guidelines are not intended to directly address more specific controversial topics, like paid editing. We understand that the community is engaged in that discussion in other venues. That said, these guidelines may serve as a foundation upon which to build more specific policies in the future. For now, however, we simply want to suggest some simple–hopefully uncontroversial–guidelines to help people know when they should be disclosing their personal or financial interests in their requests for and use of movement resources.

We would like to hear what you think. Feel free to leave your comments or propose edits on the meta discussion page. We are not seeking consensus or an RfC. This is to help us hear where we need to improve the document. To help ensure global understanding and easier translations, we are proposing that the guidelines be short and confined to one page. The WMF legal department greatly appreciates the opportunity to hear your thoughts and benefit from your wisdom there. We of course will read and respond to your comments and take them into consideration in drafting a final version for proposal to the Board.

We anticipate closing the comment period on January 15, 2013. This may allow for a proposal to the Board during its meeting on February 1-2, 2013. Otherwise, we may extend the comment period and ask the Board to approve the guidelines at another time. We encourage international participation, and, if more time is needed to allow for translations or comments, we want to take that into consideration.

Many thanks, as always, for your comments and active participation.

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation

  1. For further discussion of the context in which these new guidelines are being proposed, refer to the December 24th edition of The Signpost, which can be read here.
  2. In the WMF Board’s resolution regarding organizational best practices, for example, “more developed organizations” are encouraged to “adopt core governance policies including a code of conduct for Board and staff that requires at least disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.” Movement organizations, of course, are free to adopt more strict and tailored conflict of interest rules that go beyond the minimum standards of these proposed guidelines.

State court overrules Internet Brands’ demurrer

On December 7, 2012, Internet Brands filed a reply brief in support of its demurrer (“motion to dismiss”) to the Wikimedia Foundation’s state court complaint. A copy of the reply brief can be found here. On December 11, 2012, the Wikimedia Foundation objected to Internet Brands’s reply brief on the grounds that it was improperly filed. Among other things, the Wikimedia Foundation alleged that Internet Brands filed its brief 28 days after the deadline to do so, and 21 days after the Court had already issued a tentative ruling in the Wikimedia Foundation’s favor. Accordingly, the Wikimedia Foundation asked the Court to disregard Internet Brands’s reply brief and strike it from the record. A copy of the Wikimedia Foundation’s objection can be found here.

On December 14, 2012, the Court overruled Internet Brands’ demurrer (“motion to dismiss”), finding that the Wikimedia Foundation’s complaint was “properly pled.” A copy of the Court’s December 14, 2012 order can be found here. As a result of the Court’s ruling, Internet Brands must now answer the Wikimedia Foundation’s complaint. Internet Brands must file its answer to the complaint within ten (10) days of its receipt of notice of the Court’s ruling.

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

Update to Internet Brands travel site lawsuit

The federal district court in Los Angeles has now issued its written order on volunteer Ryan Holliday’s anti-SLAPP motion and motion to dismiss. A copy of the order is available here. The order is consistent with our prior report following the hearing on November 19. In the order, the court noted that Internet Brands abandoned its federal Lanham Act claim. That claim was based on the factual allegation that the Foundation was operating a new travel wiki called “Wiki Travel Guide,” which Ryan showed to be incorrect. After being required to respond to Ryan’s motion, Internet Brands was forced to admit that the basis of its claim was primarily predicated on an assumption. Noting that this Lanham Act claim was the only claim supporting federal jurisdiction, the court dismissed the remainder of Internet Brands’ case and found Ryan’s anti-SLAPP motion to be moot.

While we had hoped that the court would reach the merits of Ryan’s anti-SLAPP motion, the dismissal of the entire suit nonetheless represents a victory for Ryan and volunteer James Heilman (who was also named in the suit). We congratulate both of them on this result.

Meanwhile, the Wikimedia Foundation is proceeding forward with its lawsuit against Internet Brands in San Francisco. Internet Brands has filed a demurrer (motion to dismiss), the hearing for which has been postponed to December 14. The court has issued a tentative ruling on that motion, which is available here. In the tentative ruling, the court indicates that it is inclined to rule against Internet Brands. We will update you further after the hearing.

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

Update on Internet Brands v. Holliday

Today Ryan Holliday, a Wikimedia volunteer, appeared in federal court to argue the anti-SLAPP motion he filed on September 26, 2012.  Because Internet Brands abandoned its claim under the federal Lanham Act (the federal claim that asserted Ryan had helped to start a new travel wiki called Wiki Travel Guide), the court found no basis for continuing to keep federal jurisdiction over the case and dismissed it without ruling on the anti-SLAPP motion.

It is unclear whether Internet Brands will try to start over again and attempt to sue in state court, but for now, this case is gone. The court is expected to issue a written order shortly, which we will post here.

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

The power of free knowledge

Photo: Lane Hartwell, CC-BY-SA

After the recent SOPA/PIPA blackout, many media outlets characterized the debate as a battle between Silicon Valley and Hollywood for clout in Washington DC. Lost in this myopic narrative is the truth: the millions of regular Internet users who called and wrote their congressional representatives were giving a collective voice to their individual demands that Congress not enact legislation, written by industry, that would harm the free and open web. They spoke up to support those innovative websites and online communities that are possible only through a free exchange of ideas and information.

Congress, the media, and many others do not always understand or appreciate the meaning and power of the free-knowledge movement, nor the community that nurtures and supports it. For this reason, we offer a summary on free knowledge. Much will be familiar to Wikimedia project contributors and our peers in the free-knowledge community, but we hope to say something useful for our other readers — and legislators — who have not previously explored the issue or who have found themselves surprised by the backlash when they have ignored it.

As you can guess, we are quite protective of the Internet, which is a great facilitator of the free-knowledge movement, and we are suspicious when others seek to ram through legislation in their private interests without proper reflection on the values that are vital to our mission.

What you need to know about free knowledge

The mission of the free-knowledge community is to create and share informational resources and cultural works in full compliance with copyright laws. When offering works to the world, however, their creators guarantee five freedoms: the freedom to use, the freedom to study, the freedom to copy, the freedom to redistribute, and the freedom to improve those works.[1] Authors, artists, photographers, researchers, and others who have joined the worldwide free-knowledge community are committed to these freedoms, and in turn they produce media that hundreds of millions of people can use. The result: freely-licensed and valuable materials for education, business, technology, science and culture around the world.

The creators in the free-knowledge community are in fact copyright holders, just like the creators in the media industry, but unlike most industries, creators in the free-knowledge community volunteer to promote progress and innovation by releasing their content under a free license that provides their creations to the world for no cost.

The free-knowledge community is worldwide, diverse and growing. There are nearly 200 million free-knowledge works now available, and the amount of new, freely-licensed content is growing rapidly.[2]  Many organizations[3] now have large repositories of freely-licensed content, including C-Span,[4] YouTube,[5] Vimeo,[6] and Flickr.[7] Wikipedia has more than 21 million articles in 283 languages.[8] The Wikipedia community is built on the work of hundreds of thousands of contributors from around the world. Wikimedia Commons hosts over 12 million files, including more than 10 million images and photographs, more than 100 thousand sound files, and more than 20 thousand scans of freely-licensed and public domain documents.[9]
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