Open Letter to President Ramaphosa
An open letter from Wikimedia South Africa to the President of South Africa. Wikimedia South Africa calls on the President to sign the Copyright Amendment Bill. We outline why we feel so strongly about this issue in the letter and how it helps free knowledge contributors in South Africa broadly and Wikipedia editors specifically. It is for these reasons that we feel signing the bill is strongly in the public interest.
His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa,
President, Republic of South Africa,
Private Bag X1000,
Date: 29 January 2020
Subject: Copyright Amendment Bill
I write today on behalf of Wikimedia South Africa, the volunteer driven non-profit chapter for South African Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, editors and free knowledge contributors. As volunteers in the Wikimedia movement, we understand the important role that access to knowledge plays in South Africans’ lives. This is why we have spent the last 6 years advocating for amendments to the South African copyright act which will allow South Africans to fully participate in free knowledge. These amendments now sit on your desk as a part of the Copyright Amendment Bill, and I ask today that you sign this bill into law.
One of the most important inclusions for free knowledge in this bill is the codifying of fair use in South Africa. Fair use, and its less expansive counterpart, fair dealing, have been adopted by countries around the world to empower their creators, educators, journalists, and innovators. Fair use, which allows for the use of a copyrighted work for certain specific social beneficial purposes like criticism, reporting, and education. One of the largest test markets for fair use is the United States, where citizens have been benefiting from these laws for years. Some examples of fair use in the United States include: critics using stills or clips from content they are criticizing; investigative reporters telling their stories using primary sources; and artists building their work on foundations laid by prior generations.
We understand that there have been criticisms around the inclusion of fair use in the Copyright Amendment Bill, with claims that the new bill means that South Africa cannot adequately protect foreign copyright interests. We respectfully disagree. A lack of fair use in our laws only serves to further a status quo where the rest of the world can freely use and benefit from the work of South African creators, but South Africans cannot do the same. Fair use, at its heart, protects publicly beneficial uses of copyrighted works. The introduction of fair use in this bill will simply allow South Africans to be better protected when they choose to use both domestic and foreign copyrighted works in their art, criticism, reporting, and research the way others have been doing across the globe for years. On Wikipedia, fair use plays an important role in contextualizing facts, and illuminating knowledge. At Wikimedia South Africa, we want South Africans to be able to share their knowledge with the world, and fair use is an important part of that.
We are also thrilled that the bill has included provisions which codify freedom of panorama in South Africa. Freedom of panorama is a copyright principle which allows for the photographing of artistic and architectural works in public spaces. Currently in South Africa, taking or sharing photographs of public spaces which contain statues or memorials are technically in violation of the author of that work’s copyright and could result in a lawsuit. This means that many markers of South Africa’s vibrant and important history legally cannot be shared by its own citizens online. Worse, because copyright lasts 50 years after the death of the author, no post-apartheid statues or monuments may be photographed and shared online legally in South Africa, leaving a literal blind spot in our nation’s visual history online. As Wikipedians, we understand the importance of documenting our history and sharing South Africa’s rich culture with the world, which is why we believe freedom of panorama is such an important inclusion in South Africa’s amended copyright law.
At Wikimedia South Africa, we are proud to share our knowledge of South Africa and its people with the world. The Copyright Amendment Bill will be a big step toward enabling Wikimedia South Africa and all South Africans to fully access, share, and participate in knowledge online. This is why we respectfully ask that you sign this bill into law.
Douglas Ian Scott
Wikimedia South Africa
8 Spin Street, Cape Town, Western Cape, 8000, South Africa
African Climate Change edit-a-thon
See also: African Climate Change edit-a-thon report on meta wiki
See also: Youtube video about the event
See also:File:Using Wikipedia to accelerate climate knowledge. Africa’s first edit-a-thon on climate change.webm
From the 6th to the 8th of August 2019 Wikimedia ZA co-hosted the African Climate Change edit-a-thon. The event was held in Cape Town in partnership with the climate change NGO South South North. The event saw 40 climate change experts and scientists from across Africa being trained how to edit Wikipedia and improve climate change related articles on Wikipedia. Three veteran South African Wikipedia editors were on hand to teach and coach the participants in the process of contributing to Wikipedia. The event was prompted by the lack of climate change related articles on Wikipedia related to Africa. Wikimedia ZA would like to thank all the organisations, individuals, and Wikipedia editors (both online and offline) for helping to make this event possible.
More information about the event can be found on meta.wikimedia at the Africa Climate Change edit-a-thon event page
Copyright Amendment bill panel discussion
Watch the event on YouTube here
ReCreate South Africa in partnership with Wikimedia ZA will be hosting a panel discussion on the impact of the South African Copyright Amendment Bill currently before parliament. The panel will consist of Copyright experts, legal scholars, civil society groups, and others who will be impacted by changes to copyright law.
This panel discussion will feature:
Wikimedia ZA supports the current version of the Copyright Amendement bill before parliament as it contains allowances for both Freedom of Panorama and Fair Use.
Wikimedia ZA will be trying to steam the event over YouTube which can be seen live on the day at the link below.
The event will happen:
Refreshments and finger food will be served at the venue.
Wikipedia's 18th Birthday
15th January 2019
Eighteen years ago today Wikipedia was born. Wikipedia first started out as Nupedia, launched on the 9th March 2000, which sought to provide a free online encyclopedia that was curated by experts similar to how traditional encyclopedias were written. Nupedia did not take off and as an experiment before it was shut down Wikipedia was launched. Wikipedia allowed anyone to write and review encyclopedia articles. The English language version was launched on the 15th January 2001 and has grown rapidly since then. Afrikaans language Wikipedia was started a few months later on the 16th November 2001 and now has over 68,000 articles, edited by 910 people, and is viewed 1.6 million times a month.
Wikimedia South Africa celebrates this birthday by encouraging more people to edit and contribute their knowledge to Wikipedia in general and South African languages in particular. Today Wikipedia is available in almost 300 different languages including almost all official South African languages including isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, SiSwati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga.
Wikimedia ZA Annual General Meeting 2018
The Wikimedia ZA board has elected to host our Annual General Meeting on Saturday the 27th October 2018.
Below are the details for the AGM:
- Time: 17:00 for 17:30
- Date: Saturday, 27th October 2018
- Location: Code4Africa offices (top floor), 84 Shortmarket St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000 (Map)
For those not in Cape Town, a Google Hangouts link will be announced.
Food and refreshments will be served during the AGM (mostly pizza and drinks).
It will be held after the Wikidata 6th Birthday event in Cape Town and the Education editathon in Johannesburg. Both events end at 15:30.
WikiData 6th birthday
see also | WikiData Cape Town
- Location: Code4Africa office (top floor), 84 Shortmarket St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000 (Map)
- Date: Saturday, 27th October 2018
- Time: 10:00-16:00
see also | Education editathon
- Location: Sci-Bono Discover Centre, Corner of Miriam Makeba & President Street, Newtown, Johannesburg
- Date: Saturday, 27th October 2018
- Time: 9:00 to 15:15
Wikimania Cape Town 2018
Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town is now over. As host organisation Wikimedia ZA would like to thank everyone who attended and the many people who helped make this year's event such a success. We would like to give a very special thanks to the Wikimedia Foundation for the technical and financial support to make the event a reality as well as all of our event volunteers. We would also like to thank our event sponsors Interactive Africa, WikiHow and Google as well as supporting organisations such as Wesgro, Goethe Institute and the University of Cape Town.
During this year's Wikimania we welcomed around 700 attendees from 60 countries attending almost 80 presentations and an additional two days of pre-conference events and workshops. A total of 170 news stories in the foreign and local press reported on the event thereby greatly increasing awareness of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia community in South Africa. Exact numbers will be released when the Wikimania 2018 report is released.
Wikimedia ZA increased its membership by almost 40 new members. Wikimedia ZA is still an entirely volunteer organisation but after this event the need to further professionalise the chapter has become clearer to support a larger membership base and the many more organisational partnerships we have developed at the conference.
For a brief outline, filmed at Wikimania, on the theme of the 2018 event check out this video made by the Wikimedia Foundation: Wikimedia 2018: How do we bring free knowledge to everyone around the globe?
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