Wikimedia Belgium asbl/vzw was founded on 27 September 2014 (registration 8 October 2014) as a national association without lucrative purpose (non-profit) to support the international Wikimedia projects, like Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. For more than 4 years, the association was prepared by a team of enthusiastic volunteers from all over Belgium.
On 19 November we organized a founding event to announce the founding of Wikimedia Belgium, to introduce ourselves, and to meet with interested people and organisations. Wikimedia Belgium is officially recognized by the Wikimedia Foundation, the international organisation behind Wikipedia and her sister projects. Both organisations have the same goals.
The association supports projects promoting and improving Wikipedia and its sister projects, but has no control over the content of Wikipedia. The various national associations also provide mutual technical and organisational support. Worldwide there are tens of thousands of volunteers active in the Wikimedia movement.
The content of the internet encyclopedia Wikipedia is organized by language. Belgium has three official languages, making international cooperation a priority. Wikimedia Belgium will work closely with the other European national Wikimedia associations, such as those in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, on the basis of common languages or activities. Besides these official languages there are other languages spoken in and around Belgium, like Limburgs, West Flemish, Walloon, Lëtzebuergesch and Ripoarėsch. These languages also deserve our attention. Wikimedia Belgium intends to engage actively with these communities. Due to the presence of the European Parliament and the European Commission in Brussels, and because of the large English-speaking expatriate community in Belgium, English is also very important.
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment.
Wikimedia Belgium wants to contribute and support to bring together as much human knowledge as possible and make this knowledge accessible to the greatest number of people with respect to intellectual property, particularly those relating to copyright.
To enable this we support several projects, such as: Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Wikibooks, etc. We are active in the global Wikimedia movement and are recognized as Wikimedia chapter just like the 40 other national associations in other countries around the world. We work with schools, universities, cultural and educational institutions and associations with similar objectives.
To make free knowledge possible, we work for some modifications to the national, European and international copyright law and the rules of intellectual property. We find it important that the results of projects that were paid for by public money can be reused by the community, including scientific research, geographical card systems and open data projects. We are greatly limited because Belgium, unlike the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom, has no freedom of panorama, preventing us from adding photos to Wikipedia articles about recent architecture and art in public spaces.
Wikimedia Belgium will take initiatives to support the further development of the various Wikipedias, for example by organizing writing courses, in which the participants receive training and information on how to edit Wikipedia. We also seek cooperation with libraries, museums, archives, institutions, universities, colleges and other organisations with the goal of sharing knowledge.
Our operation is based on fairness, accuracy and transparency. All volunteers have, as an individual or as a group, the right to propose new project plans and execute them. The members, volunteers, working groups and the national associations are hereby financially and organisationally supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. Servers and software are made available to technically enable the various projects. Funds are collected and projects are formulated, applied, evaluated and ultimately approved by a hierarchy of committees.
In Belgium, we organize the annual photo contest Wiki Loves Monuments , in which we ask visitors to Wikipedia in September to upload photos of recognized monuments under a free license. This year it was organized for the fourth time. Annual conferences will be organized at local, regional, national, and international levels.
A number of schools have already run projects to teach the use and operation of Wikipedia, and bv Wikibooks to use in the context of a school ICT project.
Some name confusion seems possible. Wikipedia is better known than Wikimedia. Wikipedia was the first and the most important project of the Wikimedia Foundation; Both originated in the period 2001-2003. Other related projects were launched later. Wikimedia is the organisation that supports the various projects. MediaWiki is the open-source software that Wikipedia and its sister projects use. Wikipedia's content is released under a "Creative Commons" license that allows re-use and distribution of the material and this contributed to the success of Wikipedia.
Prize giving ceremony of Wiki Loves Monuments in 2013
We support organisations that want to donate materials in the form of images, text, sound files and videos, released under a free license or in the public domain and want to make them available for use on Wikipedia. This trend is growing in Belgium and the world, and more organisations are beginning to work on open data. We have one of our partnerships in this area with Fashion Museum Antwerp. They have donated dozens of images about fashion to Wikipedia for use in articles.
Some examples of donated images from the Fashion Museum in Antwerp
We also regularly provide presentations to inform people about Wikipedia and how this project and everything around it came into being. We additionally provide various trainings and courses to make people familiar with Wikipedia and learn how to add information to Wikipedia.
Some presentations and trainings were we gave guidance to participants to learn to work on Wikipedia.
We advise on copyright law and are committed to finding a solution to the problems of lack of freedom of panorama in Belgium, uncertainty about the status of orphan works (works where the author is deceased, but it is unknown who are the heirs who have the rights at work), and ensuring that work resulting from publicly funded projects becomes available to the community under a free license or in the public domain. (more information)
We work together on this in the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU with other Wikimedia associations and organisations in Europe to solve these problems on a European scale.
Belgium has, in contrast to the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom, no freedom of panorama. This means that photos of buildings and public works of art whose creator did not die 70 or more years ago, are not allowed to be published freely because the copyrights haven't expired yet. For Wikipedia this is a problem because we cannot illustrate articles about recent art and architecture.
The most famous example is the Atomium. All photos of this national monument are still copyrighted by the heirs of the architect who passed away in 2005.
The logos of the Wikimedia Foundation and the various projects are legally protected.
The contents of the various encyclopedias and other projects released are under the Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA. This means that each individual author allows that his work is reused, modified and distributed, usually citing the license, attribution of the author and reuse under the same license.