Submissions:2016/Public Policy Advocacy Across Both Coasts

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Public Policy Advocacy Across Both Coasts
Policy and outreach
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
John P. Sadowski, Peter Meyer, Jim Hayes, Charles Roslof
E-mail address
Wikimedia District of Columbia / Wikimedia Foundation
This will be a joint panel discussion containing members of both the Wikimedia Foundation's legal team and Wikimedia District of Columbia's Public Policy Committee.
We will discuss how each organization approaches public policy, and how we participate in policy conversations. We will discuss the limits on lobbying that we face as nonprofits, the meetings and discussions we have had with government officials (including congressional staff and a member of the European parliament), and the process of submitting written statements to government bodies.
We will recount our recent and ongoing advocacy efforts, on topics such as:
  • Orphan works reform. Orphan works are works whose authors are unknown or uncontactable, and thus cannot be reused while they are under copyright. Many countries have provisions allowing the reuse of orphan works under certain circumstances, but the United States as of yet does not. The Copyright Office has been undertaking a study to develop recommendations to Congress on allowing the reuse of orphan works, to which WMF and WMDC have submitted written statements (WMDC, WMF).
  • Public domain status of California state government works. California is one of the few U.S. states whose works are considered to be in the public domain. Earlier this year, the California Legislature considered a bill which would have placed some or all of its state works under copyright. Both WMF and WMDC submitted letters to the California Senate Judiciary Committee (WMF, WMDC) opposing this change, as Wikimedia projects currently host over 1100 public domain images from the California government.
  • Copyright notice-and-takedown system. In preparation for making copyright reform recommendations to Congress, the US Copyright Office has been soliciting feedback on a number of provisions of copyright law. WMF has been actively participating in their study of DMCA section 512. That section of the law protects platforms like Wikimedia from liability for copyright infringement by user-uploaded content. It also creates the notice-and-takedown process for rightsholders to request content be removed from platforms. WMF has submitted written comments to the Copyright Office on the issue, as well as participated in roundtable discussions.
  • Content removal litigation. A case coming before the Canadian Supreme Court, Google was ordered to globally remove search results as part of the judgement of a case that Google wasn't a party to. Out of concerns of the potential effect such court orders could have on free expression, and on Wikipedia in particular, WMF has moved to intervene.
We will also describe some recent court decisions, as well as the U.S. federal government efforts toward open data and open source policy, which are likely to make it easier for government staff to work cooperatively on Wikimedia software and data, and for Wikimedians to make use of what the government can offer.
Length of presentation
30-45 min.
Special schedule requests
Afternoon preferred
Preferred room size
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  1. Megs (talk) 11:31, 1 September 2016 (EDT)
  2. Gamaliel (talk) 21:22, 1 September 2016 (EDT)
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