Wikimedia Italia responded to the consultation on the National Plan for the Digitization of Cultural Heritage (Piano Nazionale di Digitalizzazione del Patrimonio Culturale, PND), promoted by the Central Institute for the digitization of cultural heritage – Digital Library of the Ministry of Culture, expressing appreciation for the spirit of the initiative, but highlighting how the PND is clashing with a fundamental principle of Wikipedia, when it considers restrictions on the commercial reuse of images of monuments in the public domain.
The organization, which supports Wikipedia in Italy and is recognized by the Wikimedia Foundation, appreciates the PND for adhering to the principles of Open Access, Open Government, FAIR data and the Faro Convention, with the aim to involve and activate online user communities. These principles are the same at the basis of Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects, rigorously applied in the developed infrastructures, in the free licenses and tools used and in the ways chosen to collaborate with people and institutions, including numerous museums, archives and libraries throughout the national territory.
However, the current PND guidelines undermine Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects. Wikimedia Italia stresses that it is necessary to respect the free licenses and tools of the Wikimedia projects, without adding restrictions such as a fee or prior authorization for commercial reuse of the Italian cultural heritage.
“Wikipedia allows people everywhere to experience the cultural wonders of the world regardless of physical presence, an experience we know is shared with the Italian Ministry of Culture’s goal in their newly proposed National Heritage Digitization Plan (PND). However, the approach outlined in the PND could seriously limit the way that Italian works of art, national monuments, and other Italian cultural heritage are shared online – placing restrictions on how these works can be shared and by whom,” said Jan Gerlach, Public Policy Director at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit which supports Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects globally.“Without changes to the proposed guidelines, hundreds of millions of Wikipedia’s readers around the world could be shut off from viewing Italy’s rich cultural heritage. We urge Italian lawmakers to reconsider the current PND proposal to allow for the free exchange of Italy’s cultural heritage online.”
Iolanda Pensa, Chairperson of Wikimedia Italia, added: “It is in the interest of the Italian cultural heritage and the cultural, social and economic development of Italy that the Wikimedia projects give great visibility and access to the monuments and collections of our country and these are made available to all and for all uses, including commercial ones. However, it is not possible – as the PND points out – to authorize the uploading of free images of Wikimedia Commons to the database and then limit their commercial reuse. This is clashing with the principles of free knowledge and does not respect the will of many municipalities, regions, provinces, dioceses and cultural institutions that for many years have made the images of their heritage available for commercial use, collaborating with Wikimedia projects. We must support the opening and reuse of heritage, because Italy as a whole gains from it”.
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Picture: Gn di parma, saloni ottocenteschi, by Sailko, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons