COMMUNIA is an international association incorporated under Belgian law that advocates for policies that expand the Public Domain and increase access to and reuse of culture and knowledge. It acts as a network of like-minded activists, researchers and practitioners based in Europe and the United States who seek to limit the scope of exclusive copyright to sensible proportions that do not place unnecessary restrictions on access and use.
We have witnessed decades of drastic narrowing of the Public Domain – typically through measures such as the extension of the term and scope of copyright protection. It is time to strongly reaffirm how much our society and economies rely on a vibrant and ever expanding Public Domain. The Public Domain, already integral in the past, is even more important today, as the the internet and digital technologies enable us to access, use and re-distribute knowledge and cultural creations with an ease and impact unforeseeable even just a generation ago.
COMMUNIA’s mission is to foster, strengthen and enrich the Public Domain. Its origins trace back to the eponymous, originally European Commission-funded, Thematic Network, in which over fifty academics and activists participated, researching and promoting the digital Public Domain in Europe and worldwide.
COMMUNIA takes the Public Domain as a point of departure for its analysis of copyright policy. Our definition of the Public Domain has been codified in the Public Domain Manifesto authored and published in 2011, which has been signed by more than 1500 organisations and individuals. The Public Domain Manifesto establishes a broad definition of the Public Domain that includes works that are not protected by copyright (because they have never been protected or because copyright protection has expired). It also encompasses usage rights created by open licensing practices and limitations and exceptions to copyright.
Since most of COMMUNIA’s members are based in Europe, our primary focus is to advocate for improvements to the EU copyright framework. This work is guided by four principles, which are derived from our 20 Policy Recommendations:
- Defend and expand the Public Domain.
- Protect and promote usage rights.
- Empower creators and their audiences
- Create safeguards against copyright abuse.
To advance our mission, we engage in advocacy, offer expertise, raise awareness for the public domain, support strategic litigation and collaborate with other organisations in Brussels, in Europe and worldwide.
COMMUNIA is grateful for the financial support of Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, as well as the contributions from its members, both monetary and in kind.