Retroactive copyright extension on photos in Argentina and the commons

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f7cc9422348>

Proposed legislation in Argentina would retroactively increase the term of copyright on photographs from 25 years after creation and 20 years after publication to the photographer’s life plus 70 years, a 100+ year extension in many cases. More in English at EFF and Techdirt, in Spanish at Wikimedia Argentina and Fundación Vía Libre.

The graphic above is from the Fundación Vía Libre post, which includes a letter to opposing the retroactive extension signed by many civil society groups. Excerpt showing argumentation used (autotranslated):

It is well known that in most cases the owners of photographic works are not the authors, but publishers and media to the yield them. By extending the term monopoly on photographic works, the main beneficiaries are therefore the companies that own the rights. Thus, the project is unrelated to the objective of ensuring a decent standard of living creators.

The photographs bear a special public interest, as they realize the historical and cultural processes of society. Represent the customs of the past, set in the collective memory and historical events portrayed its main characters. The unavailability of the images of the past hinders the exercise of historical memory affecting the common interest of society.

If approved the bill, thousands of images of Argentina will be removed from the Internet and other places where they are available to the public, since the extension of the deadline operate retroactively. Failure to remove photographs, institutions and individuals who make them available could face civil and criminal prosecution.

Among the entities affected by the bill are museums, archives and public libraries and popular, more and more often they digitize their collections and make them available to the public on the Internet. Trapalanda projects such as digital library, the National Library and digitization efforts and made available to the General Archives of the Nation of Argentina will be severely affected by the measure and for removing large amounts of photographs of open and public access Internet.

Another initiative that will suffer most will be Wikipedia, encyclopedia and community nonprofit through which all current Free access knowledge and free. Thousands of photographs of Argentina encyclopedic articles that illustrate great importance must be eliminated, mainly affecting users who use Wikipedia every day for access to knowledge and learning.

Finally, the delay in the entry into the public domain of photographic works poses challenges for preserving them. To preserve photographs necessary to make copies and distribute them effectively, which under this bill will be impossible unless they have the express permission of the author. More than with any other form of work, photographs are especially prone to becoming orphan works, ie, it becomes impossible to locate the perpetrators. In light of this common difficulty extending the copyright term of 20 years post-publication to 70 years post-mortem imposed on preservation efforts a huge barrier.

In short, the current project will affect the access to culture and preservation of historical memory, difficult work of cultural institutions and instead to benefit photographers favor intermediary companies, real solutions neglecting workers cultural need.

It’s good to see Wikipedia prominently featured; presumably the argument would be much weaker without such a popular and prosocial venue that would be harmed. Although defensive actions excite me much less than agitation for commons-favoring policy, defensive actions which highlight harms to commons and leadership from commons-based projects still demonstrate the potency of growing commons-based production, which has the side effect of creating a somewhat concentrated interest group for the commons.

How could the argument be improved? Note: not intended as a criticism; all this takes work which must be prepared long before a defensive reaction is needed.

  • The photos impacted (I’m fairly certain) on Wikimedia Commons could be linked to, making the case of Wikipedia harms more tangible: currently 10,661 photos, the vast majority of which it appears at a glance to not be old enough to qualify for life+70 freedom from copyright restrictions. Perhaps the link was left out because the presentation of a Wikimedia Commons category is not beautiful, nor easy to browse and search, other than by clicking through page after page of thumbnails. In the link I included activation of a gadget which helps a little.
  • Beyond presentation of the images themselves, as far as I know there isn’t any UI for aggregated metrics on a category of images, for example how many are used in how many other Wikimedia projects [Update: up to here exists in the form of the GLAMorous tool, see first comment below] and how many pageviews articles using those images get, and also use on external sites. Such statistics would complement presentation of the images themselves.
  • An estimate of the “value” of aforementioned uses; see Copyright and the Value of the Public Domain: An Empirical Assessment. This would powerfully complement non-fungible statistics above.
  • Many more images. I don’t know whether 10,661 ought be impressive or not (above items would help clarify, perhaps), but presumably is a tiny fraction of the photos potentially useful in an encyclopedic setting that ought to be available in Wikimedia Commons under current Argentinian copyright law.

By the way, Wikimedia Commons images must be in the public domain in their country of origin and the U.S. The latter’s retroactive restrictions will make many more recent Argentinian photos unusable on Wikimedia projects even with no change in Argentinian law. All the more reason to focus on making born-free material culturally relevant, and mandating born-free status wherever possible.

aggregated metrics on a category of images, for example how many are used in how many other Wikimedia projects

This does exist in the form of GLAMorous. Current results:

Category “PD-AR-Photo” has 10062 files.

Site Images used
es.wikipedia 8936
en.wikipedia 3719
wikidata.wikipedia 2811
fr.wikipedia 1418
pt.wikipedia 1331
it.wikipedia 1294
ru.wikipedia 1128
de.wikipedia 1015
nl.wikipedia 650
pl.wikipedia 561
ca.wikipedia 515
ja.wikipedia 505
uk.wikipedia 374
sv.wikipedia 289
fa.wikipedia 276
no.wikipedia 268
fi.wikipedia 255
ar.wikipedia 246
gl.wikipedia 233
he.wikipedia 216
cs.wikipedia 209
hu.wikipedia 185
ko.wikipedia 182
zh.wikipedia 182
eu.wikipedia 175
bg.wikipedia 173
tr.wikipedia 172
oc.wikipedia 172
eo.wikipedia 172
vi.wikipedia 146
da.wikipedia 141
ro.wikipedia 138
id.wikipedia 134
sl.wikipedia 125
qu.wikipedia 118
simple.wikipedia 106
sk.wikipedia 102
ka.wikipedia 101
sh.wikipedia 89
io.wikipedia 88
sr.wikipedia 88
hr.wikipedia 86
el.wikipedia 82
be.wikipedia 77
es.wikiquote 75
es.wikisource 71
lt.wikipedia 69
an.wikipedia 68
bs.wikipedia 67
hy.wikipedia 60
sq.wikipedia 58
la.wikipedia 56
br.wikipedia 51
ceb.wikipedia 48
war.wikipedia 48
ms.wikipedia 48
bn.wikipedia 47
incubator.wikipedia 45
mg.wikipedia 44
it.wikiquote 43
lv.wikipedia 41
et.wikipedia 41
az.wikipedia 37
nn.wikipedia 37
pl.wikiquote 35
lb.wikipedia 34
kk.wikipedia 32
en.wikiquote 30
uz.wikipedia 29
be_x_old.wikipedia 28
species.wikipedia 27
th.wikipedia 26
es.wikinews 25
ast.wikipedia 24
mk.wikipedia 24
ml.wikipedia 24
ur.wikipedia 22
pt.wikiquote 22
yo.wikipedia 21
cy.wikipedia 20
ga.wikipedia 18
als.wikipedia 18
is.wikipedia 18
ilo.wikipedia 18
af.wikipedia 18
mr.wikipedia 17
sco.wikipedia 17
cs.wikiquote 17
ay.wikipedia 16
ca.wikiquote 16
li.wikipedia 14
lez.wikipedia 14
ta.wikipedia 14
arz.wikipedia 13
km.wikipedia 13
gn.wikipedia 13
fy.wikipedia 13
ba.wikipedia 13
uk.wikiquote 12
zh_min_nan.wikipedia 12
simple.wikibooks 12
fr.wikibooks 12
ckb.wikipedia 11
te.wikipedia 11
hi.wikipedia 11
xmf.wikipedia 11
hif.wikipedia 10
jv.wikipedia 10
bg.wikiquote 10
pms.wikipedia 10
fr.wikiquote 10
mn.wikipedia 10
pnb.wikipedia 10
gd.wikipedia 9
kn.wikipedia 9
tl.wikipedia 9
my.wikipedia 9
fr.wikinews 9
ku.wikipedia 8
mt.wikipedia 8
bat_smg.wikipedia 8
ce.wikipedia 8
pa.wikipedia 8
os.wikipedia 8
it.wikibooks 8
nds.wikipedia 7
mwl.wikipedia 7
en.wikibooks 7
si.wikipedia 7
mzn.wikipedia 7
tt.wikipedia 7
sc.wikipedia 7
hr.wikiquote 7
tr.wikiquote 6
vo.wikipedia 6
bar.wikipedia 6
sw.wikipedia 6
scn.wikipedia 6
ru.wikinews 5
nah.wikipedia 5
eu.wikiquote 5
lmo.wikipedia 5
gu.wikipedia 5
pam.wikipedia 5
roa_tara.wikipedia 5
es.wiktionary 5
he.wikiquote 5
mrj.wikipedia 5
lij.wikipedia 5
gl.wikiquote 4
hy.wikiquote 4
pt.wikinews 4
lt.wikiquote 4
hu.wikiquote 4
sk.wikiquote 4
ml.wikiquote 4
tg.wikipedia 4
zh_yue.wikipedia 4
hsb.wikipedia 4
az.wikiquote 4
el.wikiquote 4
es.wikiversity 4
yi.wikipedia 4
za.wikipedia 3
as.wikipedia 3
sl.wikisource 3
bo.wikipedia 3
ar.wikiquote 3
meta.wikipedia 3
se.wikipedia 3
de.wikiquote 3
ru.wikiquote 3
fa.wikiquote 3
am.wikipedia 3
wa.wikipedia 3
ne.wikipedia 3
de.wiktionary 3
diq.wikipedia 3
sr.wikinews 3
sah.wikipedia 3
pt.wikibooks 3
koi.wikipedia 3
en.wikinews 3
fo.wikipedia 3
bs.wikiquote 3
ta.wikinews 3
simple.wikiquote 3
eml.wikipedia 3
lrc.wikipedia 3
udm.wikipedia 3
ky.wikipedia 2
en.wiktionary 2
ru.wiktionary 2
ja.wikibooks 2
fi.wikiquote 2
kv.wikipedia 2
ext.wikipedia 2
gag.wikipedia 2
bxr.wikipedia 2
stq.wikipedia 2
de.wikinews 2
su.wikipedia 2
sv.wikiquote 2
sv.wikiversity 2
ca.wikinews 2
bcl.wikipedia 2
pcd.wikipedia 2
nl.wikiquote 2
ka.wikiquote 2
kbd.wikipedia 2
min.wikipedia 2
new.wikipedia 2
rue.wikipedia 2
cv.wikipedia 2
en.wikiversity 2
cbk_zam.wikipedia 2
ja.wikinews 2
dv.wikipedia 2
it.wikinews 2
kw.wikipedia 2
ab.wikipedia 2
myv.wikipedia 2
ht.wikipedia 2
el.wikinews 2
haw.wikipedia 1
so.wikipedia 1
mi.wikipedia 1
ie.wikipedia 1
kl.wikipedia 1
ia.wikipedia 1
da.wikiquote 1
arc.wikipedia 1
zh.wikinews 1
vls.wikipedia 1
ta.wiktionary 1
bpy.wikipedia 1
vi.wiktionary 1
cs.wikinews 1
fiu_vro.wikipedia 1
zu.wikipedia 1
te.wikiquote 1
ta.wikiquote 1
it.wiktionary 1
sr.wiktionary 1
ca.wikibooks 1
vec.wikipedia 1
hu.wikinews 1
th.wikiquote 1
pl.wikivoyage 1
szl.wikipedia 1
vep.wikipedia 1
tk.wikipedia 1
ps.wikipedia 1
uk.wikinews 1
zh.wikiquote 1
hr.wiktionary 1
de.wikisource 1
kab.wikipedia 1
wuu.wikipedia 1
nl.wikibooks 1
ko.wikiquote 1
srn.wikipedia 1
sl.wikiquote 1
fa.wikinews 1
pfl.wikipedia 1
nap.wikipedia 1
et.wikiquote 1
dsb.wikipedia 1
pl.wiktionary 1
es.wikivoyage 1
zh.wiktionary 1
test2.wikipedia 1
no.wikinews 1
azb.wikipedia 1
tet.wikipedia 1
fr.wikisource 1
gan.wikipedia 1
eu.wiktionary 1
de.wikibooks 1
bug.wikipedia 1
mhr.wikipedia 1
pt.wikiversity 1
pag.wikipedia 1
ru.wikisource 1
ko.wikisource 1
kaa.wikipedia 1
jbo.wikipedia 1
eo.wikiquote 1
sa.wikipedia 1
tr.wiktionary 1
roa_rup.wikipedia 1
co.wikipedia 1
sq.wikiquote 1
Total image usages 31718
Distinct images used 7417 (73.71% of all images of category)