Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Digital Content And Public Citizen Access: Digital Freedoms - A Manifesto From The Roots

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Digital content is not only the latest hip song or your newly released blockbuster movie in digital format. Digital content, whether your government has helped you realize this or not, is also the vast, immense amount of historical, artistic and cultural works that is gradually findings its way into the digital realm and onto the Internet.

Should this universal wealth be made accessible by following the same paths that the commercial enterprises have chosen to adopt when making their contents available online?

Photo credit: Canali Photobank

In this light I have taken humble permission to take the genuinely valuable work done by all those that have so far contributed to this open, grassroots, collaborative manifesto for an enlightened digital culture where knowledge, culture, art and history are fully accessible by everyone and actively shared.

What I have done is to take the original draft available online and which is continuous evolution and to translate it and adapt it so that it could be used as both reference and inspiration by any citizen of the world, no matter in which country sHe lives in.

Here is an opportunity to start thinking with your own head, about what could be a better use of these new media communication technologies, well beyond the ones identified so far by commercial enterprises and multi-national corporations.

When applied to learning, art, cultural and historical assets how should our digital technologies be used and what should be the role of public money and the state in all this?

If a country of this world is seriously willing to serve the interests of its citizens via the unique potential for low-cost access and distribution provided by today's digital communication technologies what would be the key steps required to move from a digital media universe shaped by commercial and copyrighted interests to one that contemplates and welcomes the use of the same powerful technologies also for extending access and sharing of public assets like art, history and science?

Photo credit: Canali Photobank

Encourage the adoption of open-source and free software (Floss)

  • In those cases where do exist useful alternatives, public administration to give preference to open-source and free software both for economic reasons as well as for those relating to national security issues.

  • Preference to be given also to Floss-based training versus training on proprietary software tools.

  • Mandatory Floss license adoption for all software houses and software products financed in whole or part with public money. Mandatory support for open-document file formats.

Open Standard formats

  1. To adopt Open Standard document formats for any Internet-based public activity or for any other communication process through other digital communication channels.

  2. To support full interoperability between document formats in all public administration computer systems.

Reform of the author's rights laws

  • Greater contractual power to be given to authors versus publishers and distributors. Definition from the appointed government departments of guidelines and financial support mechanisms to be integrated within contracts between authors and publishers with the goal of adequately balancing the weaker contractual power of authors versus that of publishers.

  • Extension and implementation of fair use regulations
    To depenalize personal use activities when such use create a marginal financial damage (see French model) along with sustained support for author's rights and damage reimbursement each time there is an abusive and illegal use of his artwork.

  • Reduction of the lifetime of copyrights/author's rights
    To adopt the Public Domain Enhancement Act proposed by Lawrence Lessig to reduce the number of artworks which are not available anymore on the market due to present author's rights laws: imposition of a mico-tax or of a yearly mini-ticket to renew authorship copyright. Missing this renewal the work can return to the public domain.

  • Modification of the Author Right's / Copyright office mandate
    The authors' rights / copyright office to be mandated to collect the revenues of open-license works when utilized for commercial purposes. Authors and publishers to maintain the right to authorize the use f their work for non-commercial purposes also under open distribution licensing models. For these no revenue will be collected by the Author's Rights office in the name or in lieu of the authors. Reduction of the cost for the physical media support utilized for distribution. Lowering of "value added taxes) and of the prices of intellectual properties.

Universal Library

  • To incentivate all digitization projects involving the conversion to digital format of all public domain artworks representing the historical or cultural heritage of a country with the goal of making these assets freely accessible to all citizens.

  • To eliminate any law requiring submission of web sites to national public libraries for archival and reference purposes.

  • To require the adoption of a "limited rights" licenses (like GNU-GPL and Creative Commons) for those artistic and cultural works financed with citizen (state) money. Adoption of the same type of licenses for all data, content and projects created entirely or mainly with public money (for example audio-visual archives of national, state owned television stations).

  • To incentivate the creation of public access frameworks to free and shareable knowledge through digital libraries, online portals and web sites publicly or privately managed) which would allow for free copying, free re-distribution, syndication and re-use of such public domain works.

  • To eliminate lending fees inside public libraries.

Digital Access

  • To finance digital infrastructures to guarantee access to the Internet to all citizens.

  • To incentivate all strategies targeted at reducing the digital divide with specific attention to respecting all social classes and in particular the less capable ones: youth, elderly, unemployed, handicapped, etc.

  • Maximum support to the development of wireless networks and full liberalization of wi-fi bandwidth for non-commercial purposes.

  • To create and to finance local development platforms via the use of information and communication technologies.

  • To lower barriers to entry to new digital content markets.

School, university, research

  • To support scientific research.

  • To support evangelization and adoption of Floss software inside public schools and academic institutions.

  • To adopt approaches similar to the "Testo Unico di Facoltà" which significantly facilitate and simplify common access by all students to learning books / texts.

  • To create open and publicly accessible archives for scientific publications to incentivate idea circulation and knowledge sharing.


  • Free public access and redistribution rights through open formats (e.g.: svg and xml formats) of all updated cartographic data and of all other data, information and statistics collected by any public administration office.

Increased privacy protection measures for Internet users

  • To forbid any form of remote monitoring, tracking of individuals or online groups, in absence of specific crimes.

  • To refuse any proposition for the legitimization of privacy violations in order to protect intellectual property rights.

  • To eliminate laws and regulations that severely limitaccessing, downloading, sharing of content from the Internet for personal or non-commercial use.

Direct citizen participation into the definition of new national strategies for technological innovation

  • To involve citizens in the planning and management of technological innovation by creating a permanent online/offline forum between them and the representatives of the government institutions and while using a multi-stakeholder approach.

  • To create and to finance participation platforms capable of putting touch institutional representatives and individual citizens (social subsidiarity) with the goal to increase participation and to make public administration more efficient and effective.

This is a work in progress.
I authorize everyone to take the above content and to post it on public wikis for open partecipatory and collaborative editing. You are also invited to post your own comments and ideas at the bottom of this article.

The above manifesto has been created on the basis of the original draftManifesto delle Libertà Digitali which is still an open, participatory, work-in-progress created in conjunction with the "L'Innovazione necessaria: creatività, cooperazione, condivisione" a publicly-sponsored event taking place this evening in Rome, Italy at the University La Sapienza, with the goal of providing an opportunity to think and discuss about free culture, experimentation and new copyright licensing schemes, and about technological innovation and the Internet.

Robin Good and the people of the web -
Reference: Manifesto delle Libertà Digitali [ Read more ]
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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, March 28 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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