---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Monniaux <David.Monniaux(a)free.fr>
Date: Feb 28, 2007 8:04 PM
Subject: [Commons-l] recent legal issues in France
Cc: ca(a)wikimedia.fr, Wikimedia Commons Discussion List <
Two legal changes in France, one working for us, one against us:
1) Wartime copyright extensions
Before 1995, the normal duration of copyright in France was 50 years
after the death of the author, or after publication in the case of
collective or anonymous works. However, there were special extensions
meant to compensate the world wars. Due to European "harmonization" of
laws, the normal duration was extended to 70 years (following Germany, I
think). The lingering question was whether the war extensions still
applied. The French Court of Cassation
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_of_Cassation> said they didn't (at
least in the case where extensions didn't start to elapse before 1995,
but those who did will be over in 2009 or so). A yet unsolved question
is the case of the 30 year extensions for authors killed in action (the
only major author that comes to mind is Antoine de Saint Exupéry
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_de_Saint_Exup%C3%A9ry>, of /Little
Wikimedia France is having its counsel investigate the exact
implications of this evolution. In any case, it seems that the situation
is better for us.
For the curious, the relevant articles are in the Code of intellectual
property, L123-1, -8, -9 and -10, and in rulings 280 and 281 of the
Court of Cassation, first civil chamber, for 2007.
2) Repression of 'happy slapping'
The French parliament has just passed a law aimed at preventing
delinquence. Among a gazillion of measures on diverse issues more or
less related to delinquence, the Senate passed an amendment aimed at
repressing 'happy slapping'. 'Happy slapping' is basically youngsters
beating up people, filming the scene with cell phones, and broadcasting
the movie in order to humiliate the victim.
Unfortunately, the wording of the amendment was broad, and basically
criminalized against filming or broadcasting the film of certain kinds
of violences, unless one does so for gathering evidence for legal
proceedings, or as part of the normal work of a *profession* whose goal
is to inform the public.
In short, they have outlawed normal citizens (not professional
journalists) video reporting on certain kinds of violences. This could
prove a problem for Wikipedia, Commons and Wikinews contributors; for
instance, if reporting on police violence.
Wikimedia France contacted officials, who claimed that this was not the
intent; the only target was happy slapping, and that if we had called
them earlier they would have the amendment altered.
Now, several good things can still happen :
* The opposition has had the law sent for constitutional review. It is
possible that this article will get constitutional "reservations of
interpretation" that will clarify the situation of non professionals.
* The government will perhaps clarify the issue; that is, make it clear
that the intent of this article is not to punish non professionals
reporting on events with a goal to inform the public.
* Even if the law is accepted as is, prosecutors may get orders not to
enforce it against non professionals who merely meant to inform.
* Judges may also decide the same, if they feel there is a superior need
of freedom of speech.
Finally, do not forget that there are legislative elections 3 months
away or so, and this law may go 'pschitt' if the current opposition wins.
In any case, I don't expect actual prosecution of "citizen journalists",
though I envision as a credible possibility that overzealous police may
want to get rid of undesirable reporters using this law. Even if you are
prosecuted or sentenced in the end, being taken into police custody is
Wikimedia France tries to get informed on that issue.
Commons-l mailing list
Jim Hu wrote:
> For example, the web service at Pubmed provide the abstract and
> links to full text (at yet another website) for a publication.
> My users would want to add things like: "This paper describes a
> resource that turned out to be useful for doing X" or "Figure 1
> in this paper shows this thing that the authors didn't notice"
> or "The xxx gene described in this paper is also known as yyy;
> they were shown to be the same 10 years later" etc.
I have a similar problem. At http://runeberg.org/ I digitize old
books, among them several encyclopedias. For the sake of
familiarity, you can think about scanned books in Wikisource
rather than my website.
In many cases an encyclopedia from 1889 is useful for knowing the
population of Aberdeen in 1889. It could be nice to report what
the current population is, but in some cases it is also important
to point out that the reported number for 1889 was indeed wrong.
But if scanning and OCRing one page takes 3 seconds and
proofreading takes 3 minutes, how long does it take to check all
the facts? Not knowing how this should best be addressed, it
seemed like a stupid idea to digitize more old works that are full
When Wikipedia was started in 2001 and started to get off the
ground, this became the obvious place to put information on the
current and historic population of Aberdeen. The scanning of old
texts no longer had to carry this role. It was really only in
2002 and 2003 that I got the energy to scan more works for my own
site, and in 2005 I scanned this for Wikisource,
Turns out Aberdeen's population in 1911 was 163,084,
but this bit of information is not linked to or included in
So one problem still exists: From the scanned book page, there is
no link to the Wikipedia article that provides more up-to-date
information. The reader of the scanned page can of course use a
search engine, and will often find the Wikipedia article. But is
this really the ultimate solution? And even if the Wikipedia
article is found, the other scanned pages that link to the same
article are not found from there.
Should each scanned book page include a list of links to Wikipedia
articles that are relevant for the page? Could such lists be
compiled (or suggested) automatically?
Should Wikisource have a [[category:Aberdeen]] that collects all
pages, chapters and books that pertain to this town? Today the
English Wikisource has one [[Category:Works by subject]], but
under this is a very small tree, compared to all articles in
Wikipedia. There is no category for Aberdeen, but one for
Scotland that has 15 links of which 4 are to articles in the 1911
Encyclopaedia Britannica. The 1911 EB article "Aberdeen (burgh)"
is not among these four,
Wikisource also has a [[Category:Ottoman Empire]] that contains
four articles from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, one other
chapter and two other works. But the corresponding category on
the English Wikipedia has 56 pages and 12 immediate subcategories.
Even the sub-subcategory Ottoman railways has 6 Wikipedia
articles. On Wikisource there seem to be 6 mentions of the
"Orient Express", but these are found through Google and not
through links on the website,
Lars Aronsson (lars(a)aronsson.se)
Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se