English subtitles for clip: File:Wikimedia Italia - WikiGuida 2 - Commons.ogv

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Wikimedia Commons (also known simply as Commons)

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is a project that collects images, sounds, videos

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and other educational and explanatory multimedia resources.

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The files hosted in Commons can be used freely,

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also for commercial purposes, if the terms of use are respected.

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A sister project of Wikipedia, Commons was born in 2004

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as a common repository for the several projects of the Wikimedia Foundation,

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and then evolved as an independent project with its own guidelines.

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In Commons you can find pictures of places and landmarks.

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Animals, plants, minerals.

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Pictures of people, everyday objects, artworks.

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And again historical pictures and recordings, and scans of ancient books.

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Schemes, diagrams, graphs and maps,

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Video and audio recordings... and much more.

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In some cases the files are no longer protected by copyright,

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in other cases, the authors or the copyright holders gave the permission

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to use their materials under some simple conditions,

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such as attribution, or the release of derivative works under the same license.

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There are more than 7 million resources in Commons, freely downloadable

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that can be used for papers, web sites, posters, advertising, art works...

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The resources from Commons can be directly included

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in the pages of Wikipedia and any other Wikimedia project,

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consistent with the specific project guidelines,

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the expectations of the language community the use is aimed at,

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and the applicable law in the country of origin.

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Every file in Commons has its own wiki page.

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First comes the title, then the multimedia resource

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or its preview, as it happens for very big photographs.

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Then a description follows (often multilingual)

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and all the available information such as the source, the author, the date, the terms of use.

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The history of the file lists all the existing modifications.

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In fact, it's possible to modify and improve the files uploaded by other users.

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There's also a list of the pages in Commons

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and in the other projects of Wikimedia Foundation

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that link to or embed the resource.

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At the bottom, there are the categories

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under which the resource has been cataloged.

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The categories are standardized in English,

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but an approximate knowledge of the language is enough to handle them.

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How can you contribute to Commons?

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Those very fond of photography can upload their pictures,

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a good illustrator can add diagrams and animations,

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a musician can upload recordings of free music.

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Even movies and recordings of theatre plays can be uploaded,

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as long as they are free from copyright restrictions.

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In order to upload files on Commons, you have to be a registered user.

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The registration is for free, quick and unnecessary if...

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...you are already a registered user of another Wikimedia Foundation project.

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It's allowed to upload only resources having a free format.

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As an example, the only allowed format for video is Ogg Theora.

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Several open-source format converters are available

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than can be freely downloaded and used.

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Every uploaded file must comply with: the law of the United States,

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where the Wikimedia Foundation legally resides;

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the law of the nation where the resource comes from;

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the law of the nation of the user, that is held responsible for the uploaded content.

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Then you have to check that you're not infringing

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laws about privacy and trademarks

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or the restrictions posed by some museums about the use of the art works.

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In case of material already published somewhere else under a non-free license,

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the authors or the copyright holders have to send an e-mail

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in which they identify themselves and declare their consent

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to the publication of their material under a free license.

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Like Wikipedia, Commons is a wiki, a site open to everybody

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and is managed by volunteer users from every corner of the world

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that work to identify and categorize the material,

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complete or translate the descriptions,

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create galleries and theme-specific pages,

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find and delete the resources having unsuitable sources or licences.

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Commons is a multilingual project:

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a single site hosts all the translated versions

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and the various linguistic communities share the same space.

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For an easier search of materials in Commons,

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other than categories, you can look at galleries,

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which are pages purposefully created

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to collect materials about a given topic.

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The discussions about content take place

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in the discussion page that every resource has,

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while general discussions about Commons take place in a dedicated page.

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The communication is mainly in English,

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but discussion pages in other languages are available as well.

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Should you have problems, there's a help desk

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and many help pages, available in several languages.

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For specific or particularly complex issues,

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you can ask the administrators, who are volunteers

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that earned in time the trust of the community

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for their knowledge of the project, and are the only ones allowed

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to perform some delicate operations,

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such as the deletion of a resource.

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If you want to use a resource from Commons, always make sure

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to comply with the law of your own country.

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Commons cannot guarantee the lawfulness

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of the use of a resource in any context,

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nor its absolute accuracy and reliability.

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But it's incredible to see how much valid and useful material has been uploaded.

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More and more public archives, museums, libraries, private collections

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make small and big "donations" of materials

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that become a public good.

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Several professional photographers publish their work on Commons,

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proud of seeing their work being spread around the world.

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The same for illustrators that gave to Commons

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particularly effective and elegant schemes and diagrams.

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The community has several ways to acknowledge quality works:

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there's a contest to award the photograph of the year.

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Another selection picks the best pictures

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produced by Commons' users

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and another one awards the most effective pictures for a genre.

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A particularly interesting picture is chosen daily

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and the same happens for the other multimedia resources.

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You can support Commons in substance

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by making a donation to the Wikimedia Foundation,

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or you can choose to support (also with your 5x1000 [applicable in Italy])

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Wikimedia Italia, a non-profit association

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that promotes in Italy

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Commons and the other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation.