On Nov 25, 2007 6:24 PM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton(a)gmail.com> wrote:
what it says right above the "Submit" button. Above the
"Save Page" button, on the English Wikipedia, it currently says:
"Content that violates any copyright will be deleted. Encyclopedic
content must be verifiable. You agree to license your contributions
under the GFDL*." Then, at the bottom of the page it says "^ GNU Free
Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by
the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no
Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts." And it hasn't
always said this.
So you have to read the footnote, big deal. I don't know what it used
to say, but I'm fairly sure it always said you were releasing it under
It didn't always say Version 1.2, and it didn't always say "or any
later version". Anyway, I expect your arguments to be accurate. If
it doesn't say something "right above the submit button", but instead
says it in a footnote, don't say it says it "right above the submit
button". If it's no big deal, there's no need to exaggerate.
would not stipulate that clicking on such a button
constitutes agreeing to a license. And actually, I don't recall ever
having clicked on a button with such a text on that page, though it
might be possible for you to gather records showing I had done so.
If clicking the button doesn't constitute agreeing the the license
then the whole of Wikipedia is a copyright violation, and changing
licenses isn't going to make a damned bit of difference.
That's probably true to some extent, although I'd say there is an
implicit license given to the WMF when hitting submit. I'd say that
implicit license is only valid if the WMF doesn't significantly alter
what it's doing, though, and that it can be revoked at any time.
As for not
having clicked the button - you must have never contributed to
Wikipedia, then, because there's no other way of getting content on
there (without direct database access, anyway).
Well, that's not true, as I can send a POST request to the server in
many ways, but that's not what I was getting at. I was getting at the
fact that I don't know for sure if the text read that 1.2 or any later
version nonsense last time I hit submit. But for the purposes of
argument, let's assume it did, and that the WMF can show that it did.
"or later" clauses being found completely invalid, regardless
of spirit, that's not necessary. The GFDL license itself defines what
"or later" means - "If the Document specifies that a particular
numbered version of this License "or any later version" applies to it,
you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of
that specified version or of any later version that has been published
(not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does
not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any
version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software
Foundation." The term "has been published" is sufficiently ambiguous
that one could argue it only includes versions published at the time
of the agreement, that would certainly make sense. Furthermore, the
license implies that the "or later version" language should be
specified in the Document itself, not agreed to by some clickthrough
That's the first time I've ever heard that interpretation, and it's
clearly not the intended one, since it would be a completely redundant
I've never heard that particular clause interpreted before, but "has
been published" is what it says, and it's hard for me to see how it
can be interpreted as "will be published in the future". It's only a
redundant in certain instances. If I release something under GFDL 1.1
or any later version, it's not redundant.
retracting the GFDL, first of all, rights under the GFDL are
automatically revoked if "Any other attempt to copy, modify,
sublicense or distribute the Document" is made. Surely it could be
shown that the WMF at one point made a copy or distribution outside
the terms of the GFDL. The article-only dumps don't comply with the
GFDL, do they?
You're misunderstanding that clause. The license to the person
violating the license is revoked, not the license as a whole (so maybe
the WMF could no longer use it, but a fork could carry on doing so),
In this particular hypothetical situation the defendant is the WMF,
isn't it? If not, then, well, the whole part about "clicking on
submit" is going to be a whole lot tougher, since presumably only the
WMF and myself are parties to that agreement.
and you can't choose to revoke it, it either
happens automatically, or
it doesn't happen at all.
Right, this is an additional argument, though.
And as far as I know, the article-only dumps
do comply with the GFDL, is there a specific part you think is being
The current version article only dumps. Do they contain the GFDL? Do
they have a compliant section entitled history? Do they even list all
the authors, anywhere?
there is a significant question as to whether the GFDL is a
contract or a waiver. If it is a waiver, it can be withdrawn at any
time. If it is a contract, then there must be consideration, and any
unconscionable parts would be void. Entering irrevocably into a
contract which can be changed by a third party at any time with no
possibility to opt-out and which does not require future contracts to
be in the same spirit of the original contract is surely
It *does* require future contracts to be in the same spirit, what are
you talking about?
Sorry, I thought you were arguing that the future licenses don't even
have to be in the same spirit.
By the way, once you've shown all of this, and that the WMF has
received a license under the GFDL 4.7 (which didn't even exist at the
time of the agreement), that this can't be revoked, and that it hasn't
automatically been terminated, now the burden is on you to show that
you're actually in compliance with the license.