On 11/21/06, David Monniaux <David.Monniaux(a)free.fr> wrote:
Note that, in the US, NASA, whose photographs are in
the public domain,
is protected from abusive by specific US laws prohibiting misuse of some
symbols of the US government, including the NASA logo (the same applies
for e.g. military insignia). The photo may well be termed "public
domain", but they can actually prosecute you if you use it in an
Note also that the Wikimedia Foundation also copyrights its logos in
order to prevent abuse. We should not be hypocrites and deny to others
what we do for the same purpose (especially since the Foundation grants
individual authorizations, not a blanket "for education or information").
I'm increasingly convinced that the free culture movement needs to
come up with a coherent view on logos and trademarks. This is
currently a problem across the spectrum of free content and open
source projects, and Wikimedia is no exception: we allow our own logos
to be hosted on Wikimedia Commons as a matter of convenience, yet, any
other organization would have to make their logos entirely "free
content" in order for them to be considered "commons compatible".
Also compare the schizophrenic dispute between Mozilla and Debian (a
GNU/Linux distribution), which resulted in Debian changing the name of
Firefox to "Iceweasel" to avoid trademark and logo issues. It's very
unfortunate that two organizations that share similar ideologies spend
time and resources fighting over banalities.
For logos and trademarks, whether they are standing alone or part of a
larger image, I can certainly agree that rules prohibiting use of the
logo or derivatives thereof to identify a derivative work or a
different product without permission, or "passing off" of any kind,
may be acceptable. The logo could still be freely copied and used in
the context of commentary, artistic works, etc.
Then, if we have such a standard of freedom for logos, it may become
easier to persuade organizations like ESA to release their content
under a free license, provided that any logo portions of the images
are clearly labeled to be protected as described above. It may also
inspire other organizations.
If nobody in our community is willing to take leadership on this
issue, I think it might be a good idea to organize a virtual summit
with leaders of the free culture community specifically about the
logo/trademark issue. The current situation is unsustainable. We need
to figure out where to draw the line between freedom and protection of
identity. If our own position makes sense, it becomes much easier to
convince others of our values.
That said, I absolutely do not support content in Commons that is
restricted to educational use. It's poor strategic thinking. Even
today, Wikimedia is already quite influential. As our quality
assurance processes improve and our credibility increases, not to
mention our relentless international growth, Wikimedia will become
_the_ global institution of free knowledge. We should not compromise
to get a little more content now, which is then unlikely to ever be
more freely licensed. Rather, we should be steadfast in our position,
and wait until the rest of the world catches up with us. That might
take a decade or two, but it will be worth the wait.
As for the argument that we do allow fair use -- we do indeed. But as
I always emphasize, fair use is not on equal footing with freely
licensed content. It can be removed almost at will, or replaced with
more freely licensed content of lower quality. A rationale is required
for its invocation, and many projects now have whitelists of allowable
fair use cases.
As for the argument that this is US-centric, of course it is. Our
primary servers are hosted in Florida. US law is therefore our first
point of reference, for any given project.
Apologies if these points have been made before -- the thread has
become too long for me to process in full.
Peace & Love,
Member, Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise stated, all views or opinions expressed
in this message are solely my own and do not represent an official
position of the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.