[Wikimediaau-l] Chapters purpose and relationship (was: Re: Melbourne meetup report)

Nathan Carter cartmanau at gmail.com
Wed Oct 17 01:43:37 UTC 2007

On 10/12/07, Brianna Laugher <brianna.laugher at gmail.com> wrote:
> I was going to say that I think WMF expect max one chapter per nation
> state, then I remembered about the recent American Pennsylvania
> chapter talk. So is it one chapter per legal jurisdiction?

My view on this (and this isn't as a Chapcom member) is that each chapter
should be assesed on it's own merits. There may be cases where this is
required or even desired and there are going to be other situations where it
makes no sense.

I am not sure that I think multiple legal entity chapters within
> Australia would be a great idea. What with the small population. I
> would prefer formal state structures within a single legal entity
> being Wikimedia Australia, I think. The European chapters for example
> have one per nation despite larger populations than us. I am not too
> convinced that the distance necessitates separate legal entities.

As I said in reply to Gnangarra, whether or not these are official or not is
something to determine down the track. I am keen on the idea of having
unofficial sub branches when needed.

So, we are not a chapter, and they won't be getting feedback from us
> :) but it is worth thinking about anyway.

Actually ChapCom is more than happy to listen to the issues and needs of
emerging chapters. Please dont feel like we are being left in the dark. By
sharing these things we are providing information which could help another
chapter down the track.

To me the purpose of a chapter, as in creating and maintaing a local
> legal entity, is mainly two-fold, or maybe they are in fact the same
> fold:
> 1) To gain the benefits from official/formal legal status within
> Australia. This includes potentially access to grants and funding,
> charity status to make donations (to us?) in AU$ tax deductible,
> potential partnerships with Australian groups such as universities.
> Also, greater respect and visibility.

2) To encourage and enable face to face meetings of Wikimedians on a
> greater scale than local meetups. Although this is sometimes derided
> as merely "throwing parties" I think it is much more powerful than
> that. Connections made or cemented face to face are much stronger than
> those only through email or wiki. That goes for connections within the
> group of  Wikimedians and also between non-Wikimedians and "friends
> and allies" such as free software people, free content people,
> education people. Such meetings can boost everyone's enthusiasm and
> motivation and also spread disparate knowledge quickly and effectively
> over short, sharp bursts.

Pretty much spot on. It also allows us to participate in
conferences (perhaps even holding our own) and even shows as a serious
proposition not just some loose grouping of people.

Some other ideas...
> 3) (probably should be 0) To carry out the WMF's vision and mission
> within Australian territory and within an Australian context. This
> could mean Wikibooks(Wikiversity) adapted to Australian (ahem state)
> curricula. It could mean Wikisource special topics on historical
> Australian documents. It could also mean specialised DVDs or books
> being produced and distributed, collecting (eg) Wikipedia articles on
> Australian topics. [I personally would be delighted to see a disc of
> Spoken Wikipedia as recorded by Australians... there are a few Aussies
> who have done them and they are delightful to listen to.] It could
> also mean talking to educators or students about a) how to use
> Wikimedia resources effectively and b) the benefits of using wikis and
> c) The benefits of using free licenses (creating free content).

This should be one of our core goals. When I proposed the idea of a WMA,
this is something I was big on. With respect to the educational sector (i.e.
educators) we need to show them how we can help them and make their life
easier. We need to address the reliability fears also. I think the whole "if
something is wrong, you can correct it" argument works well here.

4) To lobby the Australian government for reduced application of
> copyright on Australian government-created works. To lobby Australian
> public archives and collections for greater access to works in their
> collections especially public domain works and digital access.
> This point is my hobby-horse and also the most different from how WMF
> acts in the US today so likely the most controversial.
> However... through Wikimedia I have become aware of how we, the Aus
> public, are unnecessarily dudded and deprived of works that are owned
> by us (or by no one), collected for us, created by us, and yet somehow
> are not recognised as belong to us.
> Why did I become aware of this? Because the US has an amazing attitude:
> http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000105----000-.html
> that greatly benefits Americans... that greatly benefits Wikimedia...
> that greatly benefits the whole world.
> The US appears to be a world leader in this regard. Europe's space
> agency the ESA is stupid and releases their images under a
> non-commercial license. I will sincerely celebrate the day that
> Wikimedian lobbying helps to overturn this.
> Those of us who have used state libraries' or museums' online
> collections will be aware that they frequently claim to have
> reproduction or other rights on public domain material. This is wrong
> and misleading... instead of acting as caretakers on our behalf they
> frequently act as  scolding nannies wrapping us on the knuckles for
> daring to touch. So a related effort would be lobbying for greater
> funding for digitisation of all kinds of archives.

I love how that the works of the US federal government are placed in the
public domain. This is something I would love to lobby for in Australia.

Nathan Carter.
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