[wos-announce] closing report on WOS4

h0724elw at cms.hu-berlin.de h0724elw at cms.hu-berlin.de
Fri Oct 13 01:49:00 CEST 2006

Dear all,

WOS4 took place a month ago. The dust has settled and the sweat has dried.
High time to send out a final announcement and thank all of you who were
there in person, online or in spirit for making it a success.

What makes me say WOS4 was a success? Well, first of all, many of you told
us so. The atmosphere was tangibly relaxed and conducive to fruitful
conversations and productive meetings. Speakers and participants alike
gave us positive feedback. One person told me two days into the conference
that WOS3 had really moved him but that he was disappointed that the same
hadn‘t happened with WOS4. But even he came back to me after the „Future
of Free Software“ session to tell me that that made his day and WOS4
worthwhile. And press and community media coverage was overwhelming. Achim
Klapp, in charge of press at WOS4, and our partners from Informatikjahr
did a great job but even they couldn’t have convinced unwilling reporters.
So it seems that free culture issues have really arrived big time in the
editorial offices and that WOS is seen as the place to be to get
information about current developments and meet the wizards driving them.

Before I give you some numbers and point out some highlights, a few words
are in place about things that did not go so well. It seems we have a
better link into the heavens than to Deutsche Telekom. From the first, we
had ordered pleasant weather and what we got was the most beautiful late
summer days one can imagine. From the second, we had ordered 2 x 6 Mb SDSL
and what we got was ... not worth mentioning. For a conference about the
digital revolution and rooted among others in the (free wireless)
networking community this is unacceptable. All I can do is sincerely
apologise to all of you for the inconvenience.

There were a few more mishaps behind the scenes by which I hope most of
you were not affected. If you did have any unpleasant or annoying
experiences during the conference please do let me know. Also any ideas
how we could do things better next time are very welcome.

Now to a question that you are probably as curious about as we were: how
many of us were there at the Columbia Venues? There were 220 registered
participants, 90 speakers & workshop chairs, 200 press, 300 visitors of
the Show des Freien Wissens and 180 guest list & staff. Which makes it
roughly 1,000 participants! I know, it didn‘t feel that way at any given
time and place but those are the numbers. WOS is about quality not about
quantity, after all, still that kind of participation is a rewarding
recognition for what we are doing. And it might help a bit in convincing
sponsors next time around.

The media echo, as I mentioned, was incredible. The Google footprint of
„WOS4" is currently an overwhelming 1.36 million hits! Even discounting a
number of links to „Web of Science“ and „World of Sex,“ that is very
impressive. I even discovered that there is a WOS franchise in China ,-)

WOS4 was very well covered in the mainstream media. International press
included The Economist, Financial Times, Le Monde diplomatique, Neue
Zuericher Zeitung, Danish TV and Austrian radio ORF, as well as
journalists from Bulgaria, Russia, Poland, UK, the Netherlands, Brazil and
the US.

We had been trying to get TV interested in WOS issues eversince we
started. This time they were there in numbers. German public TV reported
in the science programme Nano and in the lifestyle magazine Polylux. We
are looking forward to the Danish coverage as well, even though none of us
will be able to understand a thing. The Bayrischer Rundfunk has been
shooting extensively for a whole series to be aired at the beginning of
next year.

Also through radio the message of freedom reached a great number of
listeners. This includes the national public networks Deutschlandfunk
(1,480,000 listeners/day) and Deutschlandradio Kultur (366,000) as well as
the most important Berlin stations Radioeins (287,000), Inforadio
(255,000) and Radio Fritz (273,000). German newspapers that reported in
their print and in their online editions include Handelsblatt, die
tageszeitung, Berliner Zeitung, Berliner Morgenpost, Stuttgarter Zeitung,
Neues Deutschland and Maerkische Allgemeine.

Not surprising, the online media were most actively covering WOS4. With
articles on Spiegel-online (344,432,456 page impressions) and Focus-online
(133,033,834 pi) we were present on the largest German general press
sites. Our media partner Zeit.de did a special section with several
reports and interviews. So did our media partner Telepolis.

The most important IT site in Germany, heise.de, had 18 articles on WOS4,
which is more than they did to cover the world‘s largest computer fair
CEBIT! Other IT media include LWN.net, Linux Magazin, Red Herring, Linux
Enterprise, Pro-Linux, Linux Community and PC-Magazin. Among the community
media covering WOS4 were Slashdot, De:Bug, Indymedia, Phlow.net, Mute,
netzpolitik.org and gulli. Netzpolitik.org is not only the most renowned
award-winning German blog, it‘s also been most faithful in reporting about
WOS4, including a number of podcast interviews with Larry Lessig, Fernanda
Weiden, Georg Greve, Rishab Ghosh, Yochai Benkler and others [2]. Talking
about the blogosphere, here is our technorati footprint [3].

You can find the complete list of media coverage here:  [4].

For our own coverage, thanks go to the wos stream-team who put the first
versions of the videos online already on the last day of WOS4. In the
meantime, they have improved the audio and extracted it into separated
files. Both video and audio are available in Ogg and MP4/MP3. You find
them all in one list here [5] or linked into the respective panel page.
(Get the VLC media player [6] for playing the free Ogg format. MP4s are
played by any media player worth the name.) The WOS website received a
total of 2.6 million hits in September. [7]

WOS is a place for debate but also for action, and increasingly people see
it as the suitable place for launching new projects. Last time this
included the German versions of the Creative Commons licenses. At WOS4
there was the launch party of RegisteredCommons.org. The project, based in
Voralberg, Austria, started with the Blues, the the world debut of the
Tuxedo Blues, to be precise, that became the first work to be registered
and time-stamped [8]. A second work to be registered was the German
translation of Larry Lessig‘s book „Free Culture“ which Open Source Press
chose to release under Creative Commons BY-NC/2.0/DE at WOS4 [9]. So go
ahead and remix it.

Free culture licenses were one of the central issues of WOS4 again with
the workshop by Georg Greve and Ciaran O'Riordan on the GPLv3 [10] and the
one with Larry Lessig and Benjamin Mako Hill, chaired by Paul Keller on
the Creative Commons licenses [11]. The debate is now continuing on the
mailinglist that Cornelia Sollfrank set up for her workshop on art &
copyright [12], focussing on the good and evil of the CC concept.

A peculiar contribution to this issue came from the German music
collecting society GEMA. Its newsletter GEMA Brief #59 has an article on
WOS4 [13] taking our discussion on Creative Commons as an opportunity to
clarify some basic points for its members. It starts with a reasonable
description, summing up that by using a CC license, an author makes a work
available to the public in a way that is not reversible, giving up her
right to a remuneration globally and for the whole term of copyright
protection – „under certain circumstances“ even for commercial uses by
third parties. This is where things start to get awry because it implies
that these circumstances are outside the control of the author who, in
fact, of course, has to actively opt for allowing commercial use. GEMA
then points out that the „Creative Commons system“ is not an alternative
to the time-tested system of collective rights management, in particular
because it does not allow creators of intellectual works to make a living
off of their works because they do not receive a remuneration for the use
of these works. Needless to say that the various emerging models for
making money with free bits were another focus of WOS4 which the article
doesn’t mention. It goes on that the participants in the „Creative Commons
system“ so far are therefore on the one hand musical laypersons who don’t
have to earn a living from their work, and on the other hand established
top stars like David Byrne and Gilberto Gil who can afford to give away
their works to the public for various reasons, e.g. a marketing effect.
Which would make just about as much sense if they had reversed the

GEMA then contrasts the power of collective bargaining of collecting
societies representing the complete catalog of rights that their members
have transferred to them (and, which is not mentioned, by assumption all
other works as well) with the individual rights management on which CC is
based that supposedly exposes the individual music author to the power of
the market without any protection. It correctly says that CC critizes the
current GEMA system for being restrictive and inflexible. „Unfortunately,
especially young authors are receptive to such polemics in a situation
where, in opting for the Creative Commons system, they can not comprehend
the legal and financial consequences of their actions for the future.“ The
message of GEMA to its members is clear: In your membership contract you
have transferred all your usage rights exclusively to GEMA. „Therefore,
only after you terminate your contract with GEMA can you provide your
rights to Creative Commons.“ As if by licensing something under CC you
would transfer your rights to the organisation!

The article concludes with two more weird points. GEMA does not allow its
members to take single works out of collective management system (cherry
picking). ‚Cherries’ refers to especially profitable rights that an author
might want to manage individually so as not to have to share the proceeds
with the collective – an entirely unrelated issue. And finally it posites
that GEMA is flexible after all, citing a recently introduced license that
allows musicians to stream their own works for free from their own
non-commercial website without having to pay GEMA [14]. While this is
indeed proof that GEMA can no longer ignore the wishes of its members to
make use of the opportunities that the digital revolution offers, the
newly introduced tarif has so many strings attached that it is irrelvant
in practice.

GEMA press officer Hans-Herwig Geyer told me in a conversation before WOS4
that they had received so many requests from their members who want to use
CC licenses that in the following newsletter he would write a
clarification. Now there you have it: you can’t use them as long as you
are a member of GEMA. It seems that short of a revolution by a new
Internet-savvy generation of members there is no chance that information
freedom will rule in this most powerful collective organisation of music
rights holders on this planet.

The announcement at WOS4 that received the most attention in the
main-stream press as well as in community media was, no doubt, Larry
Sanger‘s plan to fork Wikipedia and start a new encyclopedia project, the
Citizendium [15]. E.g., among the wos4 tags at del.icio.us, the one for
the Citizendium was saved most often [16].

An announcement that did not reverberate quite as much but might have a
tremendous impact in the mid-term, was Claudio Prado‘s launch of an
international observatory watching the free culture laboratory Brazil. If
the observation by many cognoscenti that Brazil is the avant-garde of free
culture domestically and in the international arena is correct, then an
international group of scholars, artists and activists can help support
and amplify these developments and translate them into other areas. This
is part of civil society liberating culture from government as expressed
by Brasilian Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil at the World Summit in
Tunis: „We work in government with the hope that we will not need
governments one day.“ My guess is that we will see the first impact of the
observatory right after the ongoing elections in Brazil.

Another project responding to current political affairs was initiated by
Vera Franz from the Open Society Institute and conducted by Urs Gasser and
Ian Brown. Starting already in June, they set up a network of copyright
experts from civil society jointly taking stock of the various
implementations of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Information
Society (EUCD) [17]. Their great work of jointly reviewing the different
design choices for copyright law in the digital age that EU member states
have made, adds another layer to the official review underway that Tilman
Lueder and Bernt Hugenholtz discussed on the EUCD panel. Secondly, the
peer network developed a Best Practice Guide with recommendations for new
EU member countries that will face the challenge of transposing the EUCD
in the near future. Participants in the EUCD workshop on Sunday from
Macedonia told me that they welcomed the opportunity to network and
exchange ideas for further action in their country. With Bulgaria and
Rumania now heading the next round of accessions, this WOS4 activity could
indeed have a significant impact on copyright law in future EU countries.

A verdict by a court in Hamburg that came just a bit more than a month
before WOS4, was reason for another initiative, the petition for open
networks [18]. A woman who freely shared her wireless Internet access with
others was held liable for copyright infringements by a third party using
her connection. While the law clearly states that commercial ISPs are not
responsible for the content of their users this is not to be true for
communities noncommercially sharing their bandwidth. If this ruling is
upheld, the blossoming free wifi movement will be killed. The petition is,
of course, only one little step. Your ideas and actions are needed to
support the free wireless movement in keeping sharing access legal.

The final highlight I want to mention is the Show of Free Knowledge. When
we originally came up with the idea in the talks with our partner
Informatikjahr, it was with the same can-do attitude we had before the
first WOS. We just didn‘t have a clue. Now, we could at least reassure
ourselves that we had managed three conferences already, but a TV show is
a very different beast. Conceptually, because you cannot simply invite a
group of wizards and have them speak the way they always do, but you need
to find metaphors, actions, sounds and images to convey complex issues to
a general audience. And organisationally, because a show is fast paced and
choreographed minute by minute. Matthias Spielkamp took on the challenge,
put together a great team and grew to the occasion. When all was done and
the sweat on various brows was drying, I overheard the few people involved
who do shows for a living still insisting that, given the resources we
had, a show like this is absolutely impossible.

If you missed the impossible or want to see it again, and if you‘re in
Berlin you can tune in to the Offener Kanal Berlin on November 2nd at 10
pm. Otherwise watch for the announcement that our own edit is online which
will happen asap.

As with previous WOSes, I‘m sure there were more projects and ideas
conceived off-stage that we haven‘t noticed. If you would like to share
them we‘d be happy to hear about them.

Finally, we can announce another first at WOS4. We had always been
striving for comprehensive documentation. This time, in addition to the
audio and video recordings there will also be proper proceedings. We will
publish them with Humboldt University on the edoc server in the section
‚conferences‘ [19]. They will be available online for free and as
print-on-demand. As these things go, it will be a while before we have
received all the finished papers. Watch this channel for further

I close this already very long mail with a very last announcement: we have
great “Information Freedom Rules” T-shirts. If you like them as much as we
do we are happy to sell you some [20].

Thank you, dear Wizards of OS, in the name of the whole WOS4 team. It was
a pleasure to have you there, in person, online or in spirit.

May information freedom rule!


[1] http://www.chinaxiaokang.com/wos4/images/0404fmda.jpg
[2] http://netzpolitik.org/category/netzpolitik-podcast/
[3] http://technorati.com/tag/wos4
[4] http://www.wizards-of-os.org/de/presse/presseschau.html
[5] http://www.wizards-of-os.org/index.php?id=2905&L=3
[6] http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
[7] http://wizards-of-os.org/webalizer/
[8] http://www.registeredcommons.org/document/181703874.mp3
[9] https://www.opensourcepress.de/freie_kultur/
[10] http://www.wizards-of-os.org/programm/workshops/during_wos4/gplv3.html
[13] http://www.gema.de/presse/briefe/brief59/wizards-of-os.shtml
[14] http://www.gema.de/eigenpraesentation
[15] http://citizendium.org/
[16] http://del.icio.us/search/?all=wos4
[17] http://eucd.wizards-of-os.org/
[18] http://wizards-of-os.org/blog/?p=46
[19] http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/browsing/conferences/index.php

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