“Numerous organisations and initiatives have been launched with a belief in openness and free knowledge. Their proponents placed their bets on the combined power of networked information services and new governance models for the production and sharing of content and data. We – as members of this broad movement – were among those who believed it possible to leverage this combination of power and opportunity to build a more democratic society, unleashing the power of the internet to create universal access to knowledge and culture. For us, such openness meant not only freedom, but also presented a path to justice and equality….
The open revolution that we imagined did not, however, happen. At least not on the scale that we and many other proponents of free culture expected.
Nevertheless, the growing Open movement demonstrated the viability of our ideas. As proof we have Wikipedia, Open Government data initiatives, the ascent of Open Access publishing, the role of free software in powering the infrastructure of the internet and the gradual opening of the collections of many cultural heritage institutions….
Over time, we have observed the significant evolution of our movement’s normative basis – away from a justification based on the voluntary exercise of rights by individual creators and towards a justification based on the production of social goods….
Over the last decade, we have witnessed a wholesale transformation of the networked information ecosystem. The web moved away from the ideals and the open design of the early internet and turned into an environment that is dominated by a small number of platforms….
The concentration of power in the hands of a small number of information intermediaries negates one of the core assumptions of the Open movement….”
“The public domain, as we understand it, is the wealth of information that is free from the barriers to access or reuse usually associated with copyright protection, either because it is free from any copyright protection or because the right holders have decided to remove these barriers. It is the raw material from which new knowledge is derived and new cultural works are created.
After decades of measures that have drastically reduced the public domain, typically by extending the terms of 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, in fact, already crucial in the past, it is even more important today, as the Internet and digital technologies enable us to access, use and re-distribute culture with an ease and a power unforeseeable even just a generation ago. The Public Domain Manifesto aims at reminding citizens and policy-makers of a common wealth that, since it belongs to all, it is often defended by no-one. In a time where we for the first time in history have the tools to enable direct access to most of our shared culture and knowledge it is important that policy makers and citizens strengthen the legal concept that enables free and unrestricted access and reuse….”