Erik Moeller wrote:
On 7/4/06, Anthony <wikilegal(a)inbox.org> wrote:
>It would also be nice
>to once and for all answer the question as to whether or not Wikimedia
>claims to be the "publisher" as the term is used in the GFDL.
Under US Law, Wikimedia is the "publisher" because they create
"collections" of works of the
Wikipedia site and "publish" them to the world as XML dumps. Whether
electronic or in book form, they
are publishing. This being said, given the nebulous and undefined state
of internet IP law,
whether they are a publisher or not, there's no legal precedence to
determine liability, so at present
they are operating in an area of experimental law on the frontiers of
This is the first time this has come to my attention, and I would also
appreciate a response on this issue. The GFDL explicitly requires the
"publisher" to be credited in the history of modified versions
(section 4.I), though not in the title (indeed, it explicitly states
that the new publisher should be credited instead). It does not
provide a definition for the term "publisher." It is not our current
practice to require publisher credit to the WMF, though it is also
somewhat unclear when section 2, "Verbatim Copying" and when section
4, "Modifications" would apply; "Verbatim Copying" only places
requirements on third parties.
Does the WMF consider itself the publisher?
I think it would be quite important to have a legally authoritative
interpretation of the GFDL as it applies to Wikimedia Foundation
project content. So far we've been basically "playing it by ear" when
it comes to GFDL compliance. As the Wikibooks case demonstrates, this
can lead to serious problems when contributors try to do the right
thing, but end up doing the opposite of what we want.
I suggest that such an interpretation be undertaken after a community
consultation on Meta, so that as many people as possible can add their
questions about the GFDL (which does not necessarily mean that all of
them will be answered, of course).
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