Let’s set the ERT audiovisual archive free (manifesto – draft)

A campaign to set the audiovisual archive of the Greek public broadcasting company (ERT) free -under peer property legal regimes- is to be launched soon. Hereby I cite the English draft of the manifesto that will be included in the relevant Web platform, which is under construction at the moment. The platform will be designed so that everybody can write a post, sign the petition and even take part in the campaign as an equal peer. I will keep you informed about the developments and the progress of our effort. Older posts in English about the case can be found here [1] [2]

Let’s set the ERT audiovisual archive free

[A text of propositions and a starting point of a social dialogue]

Greek citizens, but also citizens of other countries, we jointly sign this text on the occasion of ERT’s choice to distribute its audiovisual archive non-freely to the public. Our aim and ambition is to publicize our propositions so that they become the starting point of an open dialog among the Greek society, the European and global public audience and to signal the revision of backward policies and the creation of common political wealth.

Few days ago, the ERT administration presented the beginning of the availability, only via Internet streaming, of a part of its audiovisual archive. This move constitutes an important first step, which, however, in our opinion, is tarnished by the fact that the public availability of the archive is not made free, although the Greek and European citizens have paid their money to make the production and digitization of the archive feasible.

If today, you store in your computer, or send to a friend, or allow your children to make a creative montage for their homework in the history course, using material based on this archive, you will have committed a list of offences regarding the protection of ”intellectual property”. It is supposed you should not feel by no means proud for the creative concern of your children, who searched and reassemble the sources, because, from a legal viewpoint, they have committed a crime against the ERT archive. In fact, you are liable for the deficient parental responsibility that you have shown in upbringing your children.

Don’t you think this absurdity should stop soon?

If you own an apple, you can decide either to eat the whole apple or to cut it in small pieces and share with friends. If you choose the former, your friends will not eat, but if you share the apple, all of you may remain hungry. This situation occurs in the case in which the material goods are limited with respect to the amount of needs. However, this cannot happen in the case of the immaterial and digitizable intellectual goods, including information that exists in abundance.

If a large number of people, including you, have paid with your own money for the production of a television or radio show, you surely have your say for how this show should become publicly available. If it is freely available to anyone who has got an interest in it, this does not make you by no means poorer, since it does not deprive you of the possibility to enjoy the same privileges with others. The nature of those kind of goods makes the competition among us nonsensical. To legally cast this modern reality, new forms of property have been established, whose main feature is that they are not exclusive, that is they allow the sharing of goods and at the same time defend in a better way some rights of the original authors. In modern legal terminology, these forms of property are shaped as licenses like the Creative Commons or the General Public License (GNU GPL).

All of us who sign this text we believe that:

The ERT archive that was produced with the contribution of Greek citizens and today is digitized with the money of European tax payers, should become freely available to all the residents of the planet via the Internet. The availability of the archive suggests the availability of a precious cultural treasure.

Anyone should have the right to store, to copy, to modify and to redistribute this material freely without royalties or being obstructed by bureaucratic processes. The derivative products of this creative process are supposed to be freely available under the condition that these products will not become the exclusive property of anyone, but they will abide by the same legal status of free use. In this way, innovation and collective creativity are strengthened.

That such a choice better protects the public character of this wealth and brings the Greek culture to the public attention. In our times, in which the citizens concerned about the future, the defense, the depreciation and the sale of the public wealth to rich individuals, such a choice is the only alternative solution for guaranteed protection and efficient economic utilization.

That such a choice creates the yeast of growth in a pluralistic economy of private individuals, small and big companies and public institutions (local government, universities, research institutes, etc.), extends the market and cancels the entertainment and news update monopoly of those who possess a lot of money so that they can maintain big infrastructures and pay rights for utilizing the material. Such a choice constitutes, accordingly, an opportunity for empowering democracy in Greece.

That the release of public information creates multiplied economic dynamics that are distributed more equally for the citizens. It is a development opportunity for the Greek economy, much more important than the uncertain income ERT will enjoy if they choose to strangle themselves on the plea of exclusive property.

That it creates the best conditions for the dissemination and promotion of the Greek civilization that constitutes a pylon of the modern European and world civilization. That such a prospect creates multiplied derivative benefits for all economy sectors, particularly for tourism and the artistic and intellectual production.

That the form used for the sharing of information should not rely upon proprietary models of digitization that make the public property dependent upon private interests, it should rely upon free and open standards to ensure full access to that information for all citizens.

That in a modern democracy, such that Greece claims it is, the final decisions in critical issues that concern all citizens, or involve multiple partners with various interests, political parties or social movements, should be the result of an open public consultation. We ask that such process, although delayed, should begin today, in order to jointly shape decisions that can mark the prospects of our society in the long run.

The struggle for free and full access to the public information is fair, insistent and global.

3 Comments Let’s set the ERT audiovisual archive free (manifesto – draft)

  1. Pingback: Boycott Novell » Food for Thought: How Proprietary Silverlight and OOXML Stifle or Eliminate Open Access

  2. Pingback: P2P Foundation » Blog Archive » Report about P2P foundation in Greece

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