From: "Brion Vibber" <brion(a)pobox.com>
Where such things exist (that is, where the FDL
license was never valid
because the copyright owner didn't agree and fair use is not clear, or
the site and were thus unacceptable to Wikipedia in the first place),
the revisions in question should be withdrawn from distribution -- that
is, removed from the 'old' table so they are no longer distributed by
Wikipedia on the web and in public database dumps.
Who decides if they were fair use? Do we have a US Federal District
Court judge who can render binding fair use opinions? Do we have
someone who can even say what is a copyright violation? It is all opinion.
It is all contribution. If someone starts mucking with the archives and
with page histories how can that be good for the project? The violation,
the infringement, the tortious conduct such as defamation or invasion of
privacy are all the work of volunteer contributors. It is their wrong, it is
their copyright infringement, it is their action, it is not the action of
"we". There is no "us" or "we" in this regard. Wiki software
each individual has an individual voice that is properly recorded in the
page history files. Each voice belongs to each individual, it is only "we"
by virtue of it all being stored in one domain and through its collaborative
evolution from "I" to "we" that transcends these petty offenses.
Please provide a list of any such revisions you are
All the pages that were deletion candidates at some time in the history
of Wikipedia that were blanked as copyright infringements and replaced with
stubs and not deleted. That is an accurate description of the complete
list of pages that you can find in every copy of the Wikipedia databases
relative to copyright infringements. Regarding any other type of mischief,
well that will require much research into the history of the database
as most likely those pages were blanked and not deleted so somewhere
within a page history there may be a page that has some "illegal" content
(that is if someone can authoritatively state what that illegal content was
otherwise there will be decisions made that were wrong and that may
harm the collective history of Wikipedia).
I imagine that if five articles get listed every day as copyright violations
and they are replaced by stubs over a year that means there are probably
thousands of such pages out there in the Wikipedia databases. After these
are all identified it would be interesting to know exactly how many of
these hidden so called "violations" were found.
The suggestion that older revisions are no longer
under the FDL is
completely incomprehensible to me. They are a part of Wikipedia. They were
provided to Wikipedia under the FDL and no other terms.
They could be considered prior drafts. If people collaoborate don't they
have an expectation that their contribution will be made part of the
So if I collaborate in good faith and add something to an article my
can be completely ignored because someone wants to link to an older version
because _they_ think it is better? They should rewrite it and let me look at
it. If I
accept it then they can use it, if not I can edit it and make it even
should not be allowed to just do reverts because they feel like it. That
to me to be very similar to a vandal blanking a page. It is not true
spirit, it is the tyranny of individual choice; collaborative creativity is
part of wiki software and Wikipedia's raison d'etre as well.
It seems to me that even the FDL implies that only the latest version of
a Wikipedia article may be considered released under it's terms. If you are
on a FDL text and something is added to it, you become a joint copyright
with all prior copyright owners. Can the public cut you out of the copyright
because they happen not to like your contribution? Does that seem fair? What
if my contribution is the most major contribution to the article and I have
rewritten it. The FDL says that you have to cite at least the five principal
if you can just pick any version of the article then you can decide who the
principal contributors are, rewrite any contribution made and cut a
contributor's name out of it? We do not grant copyright, we only grant
a non-exclusive license under the FDL. I would argue that implied in
that license is the good faith expectation that a useful contribution will
be ignored by someone who thinks a prior version is better without them
trying to work the two of them together otherwise they are misusing the
license in bad faith. There is an implied term of good faith in every
and use of Wikipedia is a contract, the FDL is only one part of that
therefore if they use an old page version when they could use a newer page
version they are violating their contract with Wikipedia and the contract
of association that they have entered into with all other Wikipedia
contributors who have contributed to said article.
Also the FDL has a term that states that history must be preserved
when the FDL document is modified (and it says modified, not deleted).
Thus if someone looks at a page history they must cite that whole page
history, not merely some part of the page history. If they copy the document
they should copy the page history, not part of it. Therefore it is implied
in this term that one has an obligation to use the current version of a wiki
page released under the FDL section 4(i).
Of course, I'm not a lawyer, but it doesn't
make any sense to me. Are
bookstores forbidden from selling the first edition of a book after the
second edition is released? Is Linux 2.2 contraband because Linux 2.4 is
available and now I have to contract separately with every contributor to
Linux 2.2 if I want to use the slimmer older version for an embedded
device with limited memory? There's no expiration date on the license.
(Besides the expiration date of the copyright, of course!)
Wikipedia is not a book, nor is it software. The fact is that if someone
to a particular Wikilink they always get the current page, they don't get
version they saw when they logged on previously. The get the current
which is being released. I think there is an argument that when someone
contributes to an article they expect the public will be looking at that
including their contribution. If you are saying that people can just use old
versions of an article when newer versions are available, then what kind
of value is there to wiki contribution? I do not see how the software
analogy works here. There are not copies of it sitting on
a shelf somewhere and it is not a question of utility as in software. It is
question of an ongoing collaborative knowledge project and it is the
wiki software that makes it different, not the FDL. At the very least
there is an inherent contradiction between a licensing scheme that was
for documents that had stable versions and a wiki developed collaborative
project that is always evolving. The evolution is a central part of what
Wikipedia is; it is also part of the process of the development of
Wikipedia is not static, it is dynamic, as is the sum of human knowledge.
As well the FDL states that the network location of the document has
to be linked to in FDL sect. 4(j) and as Wikipedia is being continually
edited it is never four years old so this condition can never be waived,
the network version of any document is not its place in the page history,
but its live wikilink version, once the current version gets retired into
page history it cannot be linked to in the same manner, one has to change
the link and it is this stable link feature of Wikipedia that insures access
to the most current version by all who link there.
The FDL talks of front cover and back cover texts. There are no such texts
on Wikipedia because Wikipedia is not a book or manual, so even the
terms of the FDL are being adapted to an online encyclopedia.
Therefore there are a lot of things implied in the FDL that are not
necessarily written in it and there are things written in it that may not
be applicable because I do not think that the authors of it foresaw
it being used in a wiki context. They saw it being use in the context of
a document. Is a wikipage a document? No every pageis an integrated
collection of documents that are brought together over time. Time as
an element cannot be ignored or stopped. A wikipage is a living
document, not a static thing to be frozen.
I would even make an argument that Wikipedia has an obligation to
prevent page histories from being used as current versions when at all
possible, otherwise the value of collaboration is very minimal indeed.
We are co-creators of every page we work on and we have an expectation
that the contribution will be part of Wikipedia until the copyright expires,
added to with something better and more complete. Not that someone can
just wipe out our contribution because they prefer an earlier version.
Isn't this the basis of the NPOV approach that Wikipedia is inclusive
and not exclusive and the idea that one should add to an article
and not subtract from it?
How is it collaborative, open or free content to allow others to
ignore the contributions of our co-contributors?
If one accepts the argument that page histories can be used, then in my view
one accepts the argument that someone can just delete all the
contributors of a co-author. This is in tune with an extremely economic
view of copyright that does not respect the moral rights of authors not to
have their contributions disregarded or mutilated. Sure you can buy old
books, or used software, or even copy stuff in the public domain, but
one of the reasons copyright (or really droit d'auteur) was created was
to protect the rights of creators who were oppressed and ignored. Using
old versions of Wikipedia when the newer versions are available and
not to include the contributions of a greater number of collaborators does
seem to me to be in the spirit of what Wikipedia is all about, it is not
in the spirit of joint ownership, once someone makes a valid
contribution we have a duty to try and make everyone aware of that
contribution. If they want to take it out, they can edit the copy they
receive, not just go digging into the internal Wikipedia archives and
'decide' that they know best. If that is the case then Wikipedia is no
more that some kind of service provider, not a real collaborative project.
Then truely there is no "we" or "us" only a lot of discordant
those violations can be left there because as Wikipedia evolves the
"I" is gradually being made into the "we."