G'day Ray, Delirium, and Fred
At 02:03 AM 2/12/03 -0800, Ray Saintonge wrote:
Fred Bauder wrote:
I think Flexicon is the logical defendent with
Wikipedia as a the plaintiff
should we chose to not accept repeated violations of our copyright, if
contact with them requesting compliance proves unproductive. Ulrich Fuchs is
right to point this out but throwing in the "five author" question is not
productive as we do want people, including commercial sites, to reuse our
material without onerous requirements.
I'm not sure how Wikipedia could be the plaintiff, as it doesn't hold
copyright to the material. The material I've submitted to Wikipedia, for
example, is copyrighted by me. I have licensed it under the GFDL, so
Wikipedia, as well as anyone else willing to abide by the terms of the
GFDL, is free to use my text. But they have no more rights to it than
any other random person or entity does.
So if Wikipedia can't be plaintiff, and you as an individual author are
not willing to be plaintiff, then GFDL is no more than a paper tiger since
violators may copy things with impunity.
That's not the purpose of the GFDL and copyleft in general. Its purpose is
*not* to *stop* people using the content outside the GFDL, in any way. It
leaves the way open for the copyright owners to control this themselves if
they wish, but no more.
What the GFDL *does* seek to do is to guarantee that everyone *can* use the
material, provided their usage stays within the GFDL. So, if one of these
violators was to attempt to attempt to prevent Wikipedia or any other user
from using this material within the GFDL, hopefully this attempt would be
laughed out of court. Those are the teeth the GFDL seeks to have.
So are the cases cited violations of the GFDL at all? Probably not, IANAL.
They seem to be violations of copyright, not copyleft. That is, these sites
aren't using the material under the GFDL, true, but they don't claim to be.
If they claim to be using is "courtesy of Wikipedia" but are outside the
GFDL, probably we could make them take that notice off, as Wikipedia hasn't
given any such permission and probably doesn't have any right to give it
anyway. But we can't make them stop using the material, or to put on a GFDL
notice or any other notice, as Wikimedia doesn't own the copyright.
Even if they are copyright violations I suspect it would be very hard for
anyone to prosecute such violations with regard to anything done on a Wiki.
There's both the practical problem of getting the plaintifs together and
the theoretical one of what permission is implicit whenever you participate
in a Wiki. Mind you, US law is 'way ahead of Australian law in class
actions and the like, and so there may even be a way around the practical
Is that any clearer? IANAL as I said.
andrewa @ alder . ws
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