Submission on Australian Digital Future Directions

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We are writing with regards to the Digital Economy Future Directions Consultation Paper, released for public comment on 19 December, 2008. Our interest in this paper results from our involvement in the free-culture movement.

Wikimedia Australia was established to promote Free Cultural Works [1] and related open source software systems; increase public awareness, support and participation in projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation [2]; and to develop resources to assist Astralian in the creation and maintenance of free cultural works.

It is our belief that information should be available to anyone, anywhere, anytime and for any purpose.

We consider the following to be top issues in the paper for us:

1. Open Access to Public Sector Information

Wikimedia Australia strongly encourages the Australian government to release public sector information (PSI) under an open access scheme. By releasing PSI openly, the government would be facilitating the use of Australian government materials in a variety of contexts, including the Wikimedia Commons [3]. We applaud the Australian Bureau of Statistics for its recent move to a Creative Commons licence for all information on its website and would like to see more government departments and agencies moving to a free licence in the future.

From our point of view, the most useful categories of PSI are

The best open access formats to promote use and reuse would be non-proprietory digital formats to ensure compatibility with all platforms.

We would like to see Australian government works to be released in a fashion similar to works of federal government employees in the United States, that is straight into the public domain with no restrictions. Should the government be unwilling to do so, we believe that either a Creative Commons or GNU Free Documentation Licence would best facilitate use and reuse. We would discourage against distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial use of PSI on the basis that such a differentiation will limit reuse.

We believe the following to be innovative online uses of PSI:

3. Developing Australia's Knowledge and Skills Base

Digital media literacy is going to be an important part of the cultural landscape in the future. Increasing number of Internet users now use Web 2.0 technologies to communicate and exchange information. The Wikimedia Foundation is one of the world's largest facilitators of freely licenced Web 2.0 content.