Salamat Datang, Howzit, and Welcome
Welcome to my userspace. I'm Katangais, something of a hobby traveler and Southern Africa enthusiast. I edit mostly on the English Wikipedia.
I emigrated permanently to the United States in 2007, but grew up in Johor Bahru (Malaysia) and later Singapore. I've also lived briefly in Melbourne and Johannesburg. Any photographs of my travels uploaded to Commons are - unless otherwise noted - freely available under Creative Commons Attribution license version 3.0.
Currently I'm in the process of trying to expand the Commons database on the South African Border War and the former struggle against apartheid. There is an unimaginable treasure trove of media resources on obscure bush conflicts like this one, often fought in parts of the underdeveloped world, which can be used to educate an entire generation of future Wikipedians. All we have to do is find and compile it. To the many South African military vets out there: if you don't help us to tell your story, somebody else will tell it for you. Contribute to our WikiProject today!
The Precautionary Principle
The Precautionary Principle states:
Commons' users aim to build and maintain in good faith a repository of media files which to the best of our knowledge are free or freely-licensed. The precautionary principle is that where there is significant doubt about the freedom of a particular file, it should be deleted.
This policy is extremely reasonable. If there is significant doubt about the copyright status of a particular image (example: it is one that frequently appears on the web without a free licence) than by all means delete it.
However, what it translates to in practice is this: anybody on Commons can nominate your file for deletion as a copyright violation, for any reason. The burden of proof then rests on the uploader to prove that their file is not copyrighted or it will be deleted.
The nominator does not need proof. They do not even need to give a reason or evidence which would generate significant doubt, as the precautionary precautionary dictates. The burden of proof is on you. The reasoning could be as banal as, "this file name is a bunch of numbers" or "I doubt this guy is the copyright owner"(!). That's not enough to create significant doubt, but that's all it takes.
Nominators need accountability. We cannot push all the burden of proof on the uploader without holding the nominators accountable under the precautionary principle, which most people have apparently failed to read and understand, especially the clause concerning "significant doubt". A lazy nominator's personal opinion based on nothing other than their personal opinion does not qualify as "significant doubt". If nominators lack any need to present proof, if they are not held accountable, then we'd have thousands of images being deleted every day just because folks don't like them. Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happened.
This is not what the Commons community had in mind when the precautionary principle was written. This is an example of an excellent policy being abused and the day it stops is the day we'll all have a better Commons.
During my time on Commons, I've encountered much confusion about the copyright status of photographs produced by state-owned agencies and national governments, particularly those outside the United States (and thus, their eligibility for upload here).
I would like to clarify that photographic works produced directly by the governments of the following five countries, including their respective ministries/public service departments, are in public domain and can be used for any purpose unless an overt statement of copyright is made: Indonesia, Ghana, the United States, Montenegro, and the Philippines.
Both South Korea and Serbia have made similar statements in their legislation but the situation concerning photographs is slightly unclear.
Somalia has no existing copyright legislation so it is generally understood photos taken by the Somali government (and those of Puntland and Somaliland) are in public domain.
Only those Brazilian government works produced prior to 1983 are in public domain.
Only those Iraqi government works produced prior to 1980 are in public domain (Iraq, however, is not a signatory of the Berne Convention so even government works published after 1980 are not protected by United States copyright law unless published outside Iraq within 30 days of release).