In an effort to facilitate the use of content under free licenses, representatives from the Wikimedia Foundation have arranged two meetings in the near future that will hopefully help improve matters. One meeting is directed toward obtaining more content compatible with Wikipedia's license, while the other is focused on improving the license itself.
Last Saturday, it was announced that a meeting has been arranged with the European Space Agency (ESA), to be held in two weeks, in an effort to open access to more content for Wikimedia projects. According to notafish, the French chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation will be meeting with the Division of Communication of the ESA on 27 June in Paris. This division is responsible for handling the rights to reuse ESA images and multimedia.
In the United States, where works produced by the federal government are in the public domain by law, a great deal of material generated by government agencies has been used to help build Wikipedia's content. For example, content from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the ESA's American counterpart, provides the bulk of illustrations for articles related to space exploration. A number of US government photographs are also among Wikipedia's featured pictures.
This meeting is the result of an exchange of communications between the ESA and Arnomane, who has been trying to negotiate the release of ESA images under a free license since last year. While the meeting is an important step toward gaining access to important resources, dramatic immediate results should not be expected. The goal of this initial contact is simply to "present the Wikimedia projects and lay out the basis of a possible future collaboration."
Meanwhile, Wikimedia Trustee Angela Beesley reports that Jimmy Wales will be meeting with Eben Moglen, who helped draft the GNU licenses as counsel for the Free Software Foundation, on 15 June. The purpose of the meeting to discuss possible changes to the GNU Free Documentation License, and provides an opportunity for the Foundation, as one of the license's biggest users, to have input on its future development. Wales has previously indicated, however, that it will be difficult to satisfy hopes for full compatibility with Creative Commons licenses; making compliance with the current license less burdensome for Wikipedia and downstream users is a more realistic goal at this point.