One of the undeleted images: Main building of Moscow State University
(“Main Building of Moscow state University” by Victor Morozov (Rdfr), under CC-BY-2.5)

Wikimedia Russia congratulates the Russians and all the proponents of free culture to the changes in the Russian Civil Code, which are very significant for the promotion of the free knowledge. Particularly, the amendments are extremely important for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects; and for developers of free software. The amendments entered into force on October 1st, 2014; Wikimedia RU actively participated in their preparation.

Among the numerous changes, we should mention:

  • Open licenses introduced.
The new law directly recognizes free licenses (which are fundamental for projects like Wikipedia or Linux). The authors of free content will be able to have legal protection from misuse of their works.
Now it is allowed to take photos in any public territory. The photographers are no more formally offenders, as before when nobody was allowed to sell postcards with modern buildings without the permission of the architect or his successors (despite the fact that such situation was quite usual in practice). Unfortunately, monuments are still not covered by the introduced amendments.
  • Libraries are allowed to keep in electronic format dilapidated works and those scientific and educational works that have not been republished for more than 10 years.

 

«The direct inclusion of the stipulations on the free licenses into the law is a progressive step not only for Russia, but worldwide. There are no specific articles on free licenses in other countries’ laws, and hence these licenses are still in a grey area there. Actually, free licenses exploit the archaic tercentenary system of copyright, that always limited the readers’ freedoms in order to allow the authors and the publishers to earn money, for the opposite goal – to protect the readers’ right to free access. Therefore, without direct regulation, there is too vast judicial discretion, and free licenses users are not protected perfectly. In the Russian law there are no uncertainties like that anymore. Up to the wording that covers copyleft clauses as well; they poorly fit the traditional laws.» — explained Wikimedia RU director Vladimir Medeyko.

Members of Wikimedia RU worked hard on these and other amendments in the Civil Code. Namely:

  • In 2009-2010, numerous letters with the description of the problems and possible solutions were sent to special committees of the State Duma.
  • In 2010-2011, the directors of Wikimedia RU – Vladimir Medeyko and Stanislav Kozlovskiy – participated in sessions of the expert groups of the Committee of culture and the Committee of information policy and communications of the State Duma.
  • In April 2011, during a meeting with then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the representative of Wikimedia RU communicated the problems and possible solutions to the head of the state.
  • In 2011-2012, the experts from Wikimedia RU became part of the working group of the Ministry of Justice. We worked on the free licenses and related laws and also participated in various events organized by the Ministry of Communications, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Science.
  • In 2012, the representatives of Wikimedia RU participated in sessions of the State Duma’s working group on intellectual property, attended the parliament hearings and sessions of the Federation Council on the information society proceedings.
  • From 2010-2014, members of Wikimedia RU participated in more than 200 conferences, seminars, and round tables, where they explained problems and ways to legalize the work. Hopefully, the foreign legislators will handle free licenses with the due care, and the uncertainty will vanish.

Featured image of Petrovskiy stadium in St. Petersburg that won’t be deleted now
(“Petrovskiy football stadium in SPB” by Florstein, under CC BY-SA 3.0)

 
What is the impact of these amendments on the Wikimedia movement?

  • more than four hundred deletion requests due to prior restrictions were cancelled and files were undeleted;
  • Commons will be able to receive thousands of images that couldn’t be uploaded before;
  • Now Russia can legally participate in the Wiki Loves Monuments contest, which is running till the end of October. Unfortunately, sculptures and monuments are still not covered by the changed law, but photos of historic buildings are permitted now and this opens wide opportunities for participation in the contest.

 

Linar Khalitov, Wikimedia Russia