I have read some nonsense written by Moeller and others in this thread.
"Full duplication of history sections is only
one aspect of that overall complexity.
That said, it's always been an accepted practice for web use to
attribute by linking to the history. Because CC-BY-SA allows
it straightforward for us to codify attribution requirements in a
manner that is accepted and largely mirrors current practice. In fact,
the language that could be used for this purpose could be very similar
to the one proposed by Gregory Maxwell here:
My question for anyone opposed to this approach is this: Do you
acknowledge that there is a problem with GFDL-licensing in terms of
compatibility and ease of re-use, and if so, how do you propose to
"Note that for the GFDL the requirement is that five (or all if less
than 5) of the principle authors of the document (which I would
interpret as an article) should be attributed."
"We'll try to formulate that attribution guideline as part of
the full proposal (and it'll be discussed further from there before we
go into voting). As I mentioned earlier up-thread, it'll likely look
similar to what is suggested here:
consistent with attribution requirements of the GFDL. There seems to
be some confusion related to the "History" section of GFDL documents,
the purpose of which is clearly change-tracking, not attribution, as
its preservation is only explicitly required for modified versions. A
reasonable attribution expectation of someone who licensed edits under
GFDL would be to be attributed where possible (i.e. where there are
five authors or fewer), and to be otherwise referred to the full list
I can only repeat my contribution (which has been fully ignored in this list)
"As I have shown at
it is a myth that only the 5 main authors have to be mentioned
according the GFDL. This refers only to the title page and I cannot
see such a thing like a title page in the Wikipedia.
You have to read the license carefully. The principle of attribution
is codified in the preamble. "Secondarily, this License preserves for
the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not
being considered responsible for modifications made by others." If
there would be only an obligation to mention the 5 main authors this
wouldn't make sense.
The ADDENDUM gives the model for attribution for GFDL contributions:
"To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of
the License in the document and put the following copyright and
license notices just after the title page:
Copyright (c) YEAR YOUR NAME.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
A copy of the license is included in the section entitled
"GNU Free Documentation License"."
If you are verbatim copying you have to copy 1:1, id est to keep all
sections including the section history with the collection of
copyright notices according the ADDENDUM. In the notices are fields
with the names of the authors.
For modifications there are the following relevant rules:
"D. Preserve all the copyright notices of the Document."
"I. Preserve the section Entitled "History", Preserve its Title, and
add to it an item stating at least the title, year, new authors, and
publisher of the Modified Version as given on the Title Page. If there
is no section Entitled "History" in the Document, create one stating
the title, year, authors, and publisher of the Document as given on
its Title Page, then add an item describing the Modified Version as
stated in the previous sentence."
The WMF opinion that the version history isn't the section history is
clearly wrong. After each modification something has to be added to
the section history OR the section history has to be created. Thus one
can only conclude that the section history is the version history.
A line in the version history is both copyright notice and part of the
It is also false to say that the linking to the history is generally accepted.
"There is no consensus in the German Wikipedia that the "Gentlemen
agreement" is a valid interpretation of the GNU FDL. Wikimedia
Deutschland has no right to give an assurance that GNU FDL allows to
omit the version history which is IMHO the section "History" of the
GNU FDL. The section history is part of the document and has to be
reproduced when "Verbatim Copyying". This is the way author's rights
on attribution is respected by the GNU FDL."
For a proof of this have a look at
(and its history)
"Im Falle einer Online-Weiterverbreitung von Inhalten der Wikipedia
berufen sich einige Nutzer [some user] auf ein informelles
„Gentlemen's Agreement", das jedoch nicht dem Wortlaut der GFDL
entspricht und zu dessen Nutzung daher nicht geraten werden kann.
[cannot be recommended]"
This is consensus since May 2008.
The main problems with linking to the history as attribution:
* If articles were moved - the links doesn't work and the license expires
* If articles were deleted - dito
* If the Wikimedia project is offline - dito.
Practical problems cannot overrule the legal code of the GNU FDL/CC.
This code isn't only valid in the US but can also be the basis of a
litigation at a German court (e.g. if a re-user like SPIEGEL Wissen is
concerned). Thus not only US law is relevant.
"By clicking SUBMIT you accept the CC attribution scheme for this AND
all your older contributions"
This could not solve the problems with old content of not-active
users. This would also cause problems with IP contributions.
It's not my duty to solve the problems of the WMF. If it was possible
that Bertelsmann has printed thousands of nicks in the "Einbänder" -
why should it be impossible to make similar obligations for re-users?
A quick update: the "Thank You" banner is currently scheduled to stay
up until January 9, 4 PM PST. We're keeping it up a while longer in
part because it's the first work week after the holidays for many
people, and in part because it's an opportunity for chapters to get
some more visibility (we may have reached our goals ahead of time, but
the chapters were operating under the assumption that the fundraiser
would continue until January 15). As explained in the "Thank You"
letter, the funds donated to WMF from now until the end of the fiscal
year will go into our reserve fund and will help us to not live from
hand to mouth as we head into the new fiscal. We'd always planned to
raise at least $1.3M in reserve funding throughout the fiscal year.
Obviously we're thrilled by the success of the fundraiser: many thanks
to Rand and the rest of the team here for making it happen. :-)
Special _huge, huge_ thanks to Casey and all the translation
volunteers for their help throughout the process. It's hard to
overstate the value of the volunteer contributions of time and effort
to the fundraiser, and I think it speaks to the strength of our
sustainability model. :-)
As always, there'll be lots to learn & improve as well. We'll start
preparing some follow-up reports and analysis soon. (We still intend
to share raw data files with the community, but we have to do some
more clean-up, especially on check data, before it'll be useful.) In
the meantime, if you already have some thoughts & immediate comments
on the fundraiser -- what worked, what didn't, what we should focus on
-- please feel free to post them in this thread.
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation
Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate
> Message: 10
> Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2009 17:27:23 +0800
> From: "shi zhao" <shizhao(a)gmail.com>
> Subject: [Foundation-l] Chinese wikinews in China Blocked
> To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List"
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> Today Chinese wikinews in China Blocked. GFW keyword is "zh.wikinews.org".
> other wikinews can acess.
Is there any way to confirm this? Is there anyone else who has this
issue? I would like to do an article for the English Wikinews if this is
Wikinews accredited reporter and administrator
> Fine with me if and only if you c) remove all references to my last
> from all Wikimedia projects.
So you're claiming to be able to revoke our right to use your last
name? I had no idea you had licensed it under GFDL to begin with!
I'm very happy to announce that the Wikimedia Foundation is now opening
hiring for the Wikipedia Usability Initiative!
Realized by a grant from the Stanton Foundation, the goal of this
initiative is to measurably increase the usability of Wikipedia for new
contributors by improving the underlying software on the basis of user
behavioral studies, thereby reducing barriers to public participation.
We have three positions open, all local in San Francisco. See the linked
pages for details and how to submit your CV:
The new team will be lead by project manager Naoko Komura, who was very
helpful in organizing localization and translations for our recent
fundraiser, and will coordinate closely with me and the rest of
Wikimedia's core developers. Also joining the project will be Wikimedia
staff developer Trevor Parscal.
As always, all of Wikimedia's software development is open-source, and
we expect to be able to roll improvements into the live Wikipedia
environment and general MediaWiki releases over the course of the project.
-- brion vibber (brion @ wikimedia.org)
CTO, Wikimedia Foundation
> Which part is unclear? The dumps contain my copyrighted work. You
> have no
> license to distribute them (you might have once had a license under
> GFDL, but I explicitly and permanently terminated those rights over
> 30 days
> ago in an email to you).
It was unclear to me that you believe you have the right to revoke the
GFDL license you freely granted under copyright law. I'm unclear as
to what legal theory could be relied upon to revoke a free license.
What may have confused you, counselor, is that I expressed a
willingness to tolerate, to the degree it's not unduly disruptive,
those few editors who want to remove all content they have generated,
no matter how teensy. But this was not based on a perception that
GFDL is revocable. It was simply a political judgment that WMF might
not choose to challenge someone who decided to take all his (freely
licensed) marbles and go home. We have larger goals than that.
>> It was unclear to me that you believe you have the right to revoke
>> GFDL license you freely granted under copyright law. I'm unclear as
>> to what legal theory could be relied upon to revoke a free license.
> I'm surprised you never learned that, but fortunately it's
> irrelevant. Just
> reread section 9 of the GFDL. I find it rather astounding that you
> know what it says.
Oh, I know what it says. I simply choose not to willfully misread
it. Old law-school study habit. Avoiding misreadings tends to improve
Thomas Dalton writes:
> I guess if you leave it up to the editor to do it themselves, it could
> work, although it would still require someone to go along after them
> fixing the mess that would inevitably result from removing random
> chunks from the middle of articles. There would also be disputes over
> how much should be removed - can you remove a word because you
> corrected the spelling of it? (probably not) can you remove an entire
> sentence because it's an expansion of a sentence that you wrote?
> (probably, since there isn't an alternative, but that's going to
> really piss off the person that did all the work expanding it) And
> then you have to deal with disputes over whether the text that is put
> in to replace the removed chunks is sufficiently different so as not
> to infringe on the editor's copyright. I think it would end up being a
> lot of work for more than just the editor in question.
I agree with you that an editor who chooses to remove some large
number of minor edits is going to be quite disruptive, but I think it
goes without saying that some very tiny minority of editors is quite
willing to be disruptive and antisocial in order to score to (a)
vindicate their perceived rights or (b) (and less charitably) to score
an ideological point.
I hope it is not news to anyone here that some (very tiny) fraction of
editors values making a point over making information freely available
to the world.
>> I don't recall the GFDL saying the licensor can unilaterally revoke
>> the license...
> Reread section 9.
Section 9 doesn't provide for a licensor to revoke, willynilly, the
GFDL licenses for a particular user. What it does do is provide for
automatic termination in the event that the licensed material is
(inter alia) distributed in some way other provided for by the GFDL,
as well as further providing for the copyright holder to expressly
terminate the license if the copyrighted work continues to be
distributed in ways not allowed for under the GFDL.
So, in what ways are the dumps inherently violative of the GFDL? And
did this violation only just now come to your attention? And, if so,
what does it matter whether license harmonization occurs or not, since
even if it doesn't occur the dumps will continue to be distributing
This begins to look stranger and stranger.
> Even Mike Godwin seemed to recognize this principle in his early
> on the topic, when he suggested that there would be a way to opt-out
> of the
> relicensing. But my single question which I presented for the FAQ
> was left
> unanswered. How can I opt out?
My suggestion that editors might choose to opt out was informed by my
strong belief that only a very editors would even want to.
Contributions to wiki projects are already subject to an immense
amount of merger and conflation with other people's contributions, but
I suppose if anyone really felt that the copyrights in *his particular
edits* were being used in a way that violated his intent to license
them freely for others to use, that that person probably would feel
strongly enough to review some or all of his edits and remove them.
Obviously, anyone that passionate about this issue will have the
energy to do this. My expressed view was that we not stand in such a
> Is a license that is never enforced truly a license, in the legal
Sure. The fact that GFDL attribution requirements have never been
strictly followed on Wikipedia does not entail that somehow the GFDL
has vanished or doesn't apply. A more lawyerly interpretation of the
facts would be to understand that contributors have some pretty strict
rights to attribution under the (earlier) GFDL that they don't
enforce. A right in copyright that a rights-holder chooses not to
enforce does not normally evaporate for that reason.
> There probably aren't many offline reusers because they're either
> entirely non-compliant and we have no idea that they exist or they
> to be compliant, read the terms of the GFDL, and decide not to bother
> with our content.
This is absolutely one of the problems this license-harmonization
effort is trying to address. (Another, obviously, is to move towards a
licensing approach that reflects Wikipedia's actual practice.)
Thomas Dalton writes:
> I'm not sure Mike was thinking clearly when he said that - I don't see
> any way someone that has made a significant number of edits could
> opt-out. The work required in tracing what parts of what articles are
> derivative of your edits would make removing your edits infeasible, so
> every article you've edited would have to remain under only GFDL,
> which dramatically reduces the usefulness of the changeover. And
> that's before we consider articles that have been merged and other
> means by which text is moved from one article to another.
I *think* I was thinking clearly -- I didn't mean to suggest that it
would be trivial for an editor massively concerned about the
changeover to remove all his or her edits. Obviously, for some editors
it would be practically impossible. For others it might be possible,
and for still others removal of a few edits or articles might be all
the editor really wants to do.
But I was actually trying to draw some attention to the fact that
claiming copyright interests in particular *edits*, while
theoretically valid under copyright law, are close to absurd in
practical terms. Leaving aside the cases where editors made
substantial additions (or even drafted whole articles) -- the easiest
cases in other words -- I would think that most of the editors who so
radically object to the license harmonization that they want to leave
Wikipedia altogether would be satisfied by opting out of making
further contributions. I'm not sanguine about that prospect -- I
would prefer that they continue on as editors -- but the unwieldiness
and compatibility problems created by our current licensing scheme are
a much bigger problem than that, and a much bigger threat to our