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Working Group Stories: Public Domain, Open Sustainability, Open Education

Working Groups Stories, a blog series we started back in May, is our way of showcasing the incredible work being done in all different domains across the Open Knowledge Foundation Network. Working groups are domain-specific groups, promoting, defining and producing open knowledge in everything from Archaeology to Shakespeare.

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Public Domain Working Group

The Public Domain Working Group has been busy over the last few months, working in partnership with OKF France and the French Ministry of Culture to develop a French Public Domain Calculator. Public Domain Calculators are tools to help users determine whether or not a piece of work is in the public domain. In France, this comes at an important time, as we enter the period when most of the works produced by authors who died during the second world war will (theoretically) enter the public domain. However, French copyright law stipulates that authors who died for France during the war have extended terms of protection. This complication could lead to a number of works being incorrectly assumed to be in the public domain.

The value of Public Domain Calculators extends far beyond the particularities of national copyright law. Calculators help identify and promote good practices and open data policies within cultural institutions. They will be used by cultural institutions as a benchmarking tool to identify flaws and gaps in the structure or content of their bibliographical metadata, to increase the accuracy of the results. If you are interested in finding out more about public domain calculators or want to build one for your country, please get in contact at getinvolved {at} okfn.org or join our Public Domain Mailing List.

Open Sustainability

The Open Sustainability Working Group has been growing fast since its launch less than a year ago, with activity in several countries including Finland and Italy and a new twitter account (@OpenSusty). The group are key in the OKFN global #OpenCO2 campaign to bring more transparency to emissions tracking, so big polluters are held to account. The new local Open Sustainability group in Finland has met with energy companies about access to personal energy use data, and is interested in opening up sustainability and climate data and modelling. Energy software has been built using open data at Energy hack events in Germany and Finland. Next up is the Sustainability and Development topic at OKCon this month in Geneva. Join the growing conversation on the Open Sustainability mailing list and follow us @OpenSusty.

Open Education

Open Education, the newest addition to the working group family, has been busy despite its official launch still being a few weeks off! This week, the group organised an Open Education Handbook mini-booksprint in London, inviting open education experts along to share ideas and write down copy relating to various aspects of open education: resources, data and pedagogy. The event resulted in an initial outline of the book to be drafted; the final edited version is due for October 2014. If you are interested in hearing more about the Open Education Handbook or would like to contribute to it then join the Open Education Working Group mailing list for updates.

Cover image: The O-Pen, by O’Khoas creations, from the Public Domain Remix. Illustration: OKF Booksprint Data, by Kevin Mears. All CC-BY

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