Dear All, I am forwarding the below mail on behalf of a Malayalam wikipedian who is very active in Wikimedia Commons.
Of late it is becoming very difficult for many Wikimedians from India to contribute to Wikimedia Commons especially if they are uploading historical images which are in PD. We are facing lot of issues (and many a times unnecessary controversies also) with the historic images in PD, images of wall paintings and statues, and so on. Please see the below mail in which Sreejith citing various examples. It is almost impossible for the uploaders from India to show proof of the century old images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The current policies of Commons are not permitting many of the PD images from India citing all sorts of policies which might be relevant only in the western world. With these type of policies we are going to have serious issues when we try to go for GLAM type events. But I also do not know the solution for this issue. Requesting constructive discussion. Shiju Alex ---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Sreejith K. <sreejithk2...@gmail.com> Date: Thu, May 5, 2011 at 12:03 PM Subject: Copyright problems of images from India To: Shiju Alex <shijualexonl...@gmail.com> Shiju, As you might be aware already, we are having trouble keeping historical images about India in Wikimedia commons. This pertains mostly to images about Hindu gods and people who died before 1947. Please see the below examples: - File:Narayana Guru.jpg<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Narayana_Guru.jpg> - This is the image of Sree Narayana Guru<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narayana_Guru>, a Hindu saint, social reformer and is even considered a god by certain castes in Kerala. This image has been tagged as an image with No source. Narayana Guru expired in 1928 and considering the conditions in which India was in during that period and before, it is very difficult to get an image source online. Most active Wikipedians does not have access or information on how old the image is or where a source of it can be found. Any photograph published before 1941 in India is in public domain as per Indian copyright act. Common sense says that this image meets this criteria because the person was long lead before 1941, but we still need proof of the first publishing date. Deleting this image on grounds that no source could be found will only reduce the informative values of all the articles which this image is included in. - File:Aravana.JPG: This image has already been deleted, but you can see the amount of discussion that went in before deleting it. See Commons:Deletion requests/File:Aravana.JPG<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Deletion_requests/File:Aravana.JPG>. (An almost similar image can be found here<http://www.flickr.com/photos/anoopp/5706721852/in/photostream/>.)This image as put for deletion because it had the image of Swami Ayyappan<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Ayyappan>in it. Ayyappan, a popular god of Kerala, has his image circulated everywhere on the plant with no proof of copyrights. It makes sense to believe that this image is not eligible for copyright because Hindu deities are all common property, but again, Commons need proof that the image is in public domain. This is the same case with all Hindu gods/goddesses. The images can only be kept in Commons if the uploader can provide proof that the images are in public domain. - File:Kottarathil sankunni.jpg<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kottarathil_sankunni.jpg>: This is a picture of Kottarathil Sankunni<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kottarathil_Sankunni>, the author of the famous book Aithiyamaala<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aithihyamala>. Kottarathil Sankunni died in 1937 and so it makes sense to believe that this image was created on or before 1937 and thus falls in Public Domain. But some people in Commons is refusing to believe that and is asking for proof. Now it becomes the responsibility of the uploader to show proof that this image was published 60 years before today. The editor who nominated the image for deletion is on the safer side because it is not his responsibility to prove that the image is a copyright violation. So long story short, anyone can nominate any image for copyright violation and it becomes the uploaders responsibility to prove that its not. The deletion nomination need not be accompanied with a reason for disbelief. - File:Anoop Menon.jpg<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anoop_Menon.jpg>: This is the picture of Anoop Menon<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anoop_Menon>, a popular actor from Kerala. A discussion is going on about the uploaders credibility whether he is the original photographer of this image. Please see File talk:Anoop Menon.jpg<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File_talk:Anoop_Menon.jpg>. The reason for doubting the uploader is simple. This image has professional quality and so the uploader cannot be the copyright owner because this is his first upload. Strange? Now, it becomes the responsibility of the uploader to prove that he took this image and I do not know how and nor does the person who is arguing for it. He claims that the uploader can upload the full resolution image with EXIF but whats even funny is that most of images from the person who is saying this does not meet this criteria. Again, back to round 1 in my first example. Its the responsibility of the uploader to prove his image and anyone can doubt him for any stupid reason and commons hardly cares. As you can see, it is getting quite difficult to maintain images from India in commons. India is a country which has only started to use Internet less than a decade ago and we still do not have many of our countries' books or sources of information online. So any image from India which gets nominated for deletion in Wikimedia Commons get deleted for absence of proof. Commons is ruled by *precautionary principle*, where in they are not willing to take any risks on copyright and will delete any image for which anyone has doubts. This is in contrary to local wikipedia projects in India where it is rules by the *good faith principle* where we will trust the uploader and it becomes the responsibility of the nominator to prove that the image has false copyright claim. This issue is beginning to hurt the contents from India. If we can do something, its time we act immediately. If we are just going to just spent out time discussing about it, the pictures of all Hindu gods and people who died before independence might get deleted by that time. Regards, Sreejith K.
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