Submissions/Non-copyright Restrictions on Free Knowledge?

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Non-copyright Restrictions on Free Knowledge?
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
Shun-Ling Chen
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Assistant Research Professor, Academia Sinica, Institutum Iurisprudentiae
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The Wikipedia community has found ways to put together a large pool of free information despite the general restrictions of copyright law. To ensure all content is free for duplication, redistribution, and modification, Wikipedia's copyright policy requires its contributors to waive exclusive rights they obtain as copyright authors. However, there is information whose access and use are restricted for reasons unrelated to copyright. The Wikipedia community has dealt with several such issues: e.g. related to pornography, privacy, public safety such as in case of the Rorschach test, religious taboos such as in case of the Muhammed cartoons. Some of these remain controversial. This presentation will go through some examples in the history of Wikipedia and categorize the arguments that have been used for or against the inclusion of these controversial materials. The Wikipedia community has not dealt with some other issues as much, e.g. sacred indigenous knowledge with restricted access inside an indigenous community but which has been documented previously by visitors or ethnographers. What might be the arguments for or against making these materials available on Wikipedia? The presentation will draw on previous court cases covering incidents outside of Wikipedia and explore how they might apply to Wikipedia.

This research is part of a larger project conducted by the presenter, titled: “Non-economic Restrictions on the Access to Public Domain Information: Public Safety, National Security, Sacredness and Privacy.” Previously the author has published the following papers related to Wikipedia and free knowledge: "Wikipedia: A Republic of Science Democratized", "Collaborative Authorship: From Folklore to the Wikiborg" (presented in preliminary form at Wikimania 2009), "The Wikimedia Foundation and the Self-Governing Wikipedia Community: A Dynamic Relationship Under Constant Negotiation” (2012), “Exposing Professionalism in United States Copyright law (forthcoming, 2015).

  • Legal & Free Culture
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

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  1. Adamw (talk) 18:25, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
  2. CT Cooper · talk 21:54, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
  3. Ocaasi (talk) 23:43, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  4. --アンタナナ 23:26, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
  5. Dashaund (talk) 03:15, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  6. Carlojoseph14 (talk) 21:05, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  7. Darafsh Kaviyani (Talk) 21:02, 18 July 2015 (UTC)