COMMUNIA advocates for policies that expand the public domain and increase access to and reuse of culture and knowledge. We seek to limit the scope of exclusive copyright to sensible proportions that do not place unnecessary restrictions on access and use.
After decades of measures that have drastically reduced the public domain, typically by extending the terms and scope of of copyright protection, it is time to strongly reaffirm how much our societies and economies rely on a vibrant and ever expanding public domain. The role of the public domain, already crucial in the past, is even more important today, as the Internet and digital technologies enable us to access, use, and re-distribute culture with an ease and impact unforeseeable even just a generation ago.
Background of the association
The COMMUNIA International Association on the public domain is a network of activists, researchers and practitioners from universities, NGOs and SME established in 10 Member States. The mission of COMMUNIA is to foster, strengthen and enrich the Public Domain. COMMUNIA is an international association incorporated under Belgian law. The COMMUNIA association is built on the eponymous Thematic Network, funded by the European Commission from 2007 to 2011, which issued the Public Domain Manifesto and gathered over 50 members from academia and civil society researching and promoting the digital public domain in Europe and worldwide.
COMMUNIA aims at maintaining and reinforcing a network of European and international organisations that work to inform policy discussion and strategic action on all issues related to the public domain in the digital environment and copyright rules that do not limit the public domain.
COMMUNIA takes the public domain as a point of departure for its analysis of copyright policy. Our definition of the public domain has been codified in the Public Domain Manifesto that we authored and published in 2011 and that has been signed by more than 1500 organisations and individuals. The Public Domain Manifesto establishes a broad definition of the public domain that includes works that are not protected by copyright (because they have never been protected or because copyright protection has expired), as well as use rights created by open licensing practices and limitations and exceptions to copyright.
Since COMMUNIA is comprised of mainly European members, our primary focus is to advocate for improvements to the EU copyright framework. This work is guided by three principles which are derived from our 14 original policy recommendations:
- Exclusive rights should be limited.
- The public domain should not be eroded by legal or technical means.
- Limitations and exceptions to copyright should continue playing their role of adapting copyright to technological changes.
Based on these principles, we have defined a list of issues (see our March 2015 policy paper on the review of the EU copyright rules) for which COMMUNIA advocates with regard to the review of the EU copyright framework.
Based on these principles, we engage in policy discussions, offer expertise, and and create awareness about the importance of the public domain. Our activities include publications, meetings, conferences, projects, consultations, studies, research, representation towards institutions, collaboration with other associations and entities in Brussels, in Europe and worldwide. COMMUNIA finances itself through contributions from its members, both monetary and in kind.
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