I don't think the problem will be whether the contributors edited in
accounts associated with their legal identities, I think the problem will be
whether all the editors (or their heirs) are contactable.
Much of the pedia has been written by IP editors. IPs may be edited by
multiple people and by different people over time. So even if the IP address
in question is still active and agrees to the release into Public domain of
something contributed by that IP address three years ago, there is a real
possibility that the person currently editing at that IP address is not the
same as the one whose copyright they are willing to give away.
With logged in accounts you are on much firmer ground, if you post on the
talkpage of a contributor and they agree to waive their rights on an article
then you don't need to know who they are, but you can be pretty confident
that they are the same person as was editing that account when it
contributed to that article.
But a significant proportion of our editors are no longer with us and may
not even be monitoring their talkpage or the Email account they used for
Wikipedia, and 30% don't even have email enabled. A few have scrambled their
passwords, or been blocked and had their talkpage access revoked. Some are
dead. But if you can be patient, in the long run it may be possible to
assume that all editors involved have been dead for more than seventy years.
Though with some of our editors being as young as 8 that could be quite a
It might be easier to persuade whatever the organisation it is that insists
on PD to broaden their stance and become compatible with us.
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2011 12:37:08 +0100
From: Fae <faenwp(a)gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] How to free something from Wikipedia in
the public domain?
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
Sounds a little problematic depending on the details. If the text was
released on Wikipedia first, then the contributors agreed "to release
your contribution under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License". If the all the
authors of the article can identify themselves as the same people who
contributed under the named accounts for the original Wikipedia
article then release to PD is no problem, in practice few articles
only have a history of contributors who are using accounts associated
with their legal identities.