Anthony DiPierro wrote:
On 1/2/06, Robert Bamler <Robert.Bamler(a)gmx.de>
By the way, another question comes to my mind: If
a contributor to an article
wasn't logged in, do I have to mention his IP-number in the list of authors?
I don't think this would make much sense, but perhaps it's legally required
by the GFDL. Or is it sufficient to make the reader application display the
string "There might be other (anonymous) contributors to this article"?
Personally I take the position that someone who contributes to
Wikipedia without providing a name or pseudonym has waived her right
to attribution under the GFDL. That may or may not be a correct
interpretation of the law. But anonymous contributions are legally so
dubious anyway - a third party has basically no evidence that the
content was ever released under the GFDL in the first place. If
someone complains about an anonymous contribution you've basically got
to just meet their demands or remove the contribution, hope they don't
sue you for past damages, and hope that if they do sue you that you
can convince the judge to award some miniscule amount in damages.
Frankly, if someone complains about a non-anonymous contribution you
should probably do the same thing. Relying on a third party
click-through licensing agreement is not likely to hold up in court.
That seems like a reasonable analysis, but not to the point that I would
be so alarmist about being taken to court. With an identified and
active contributor we at least have the opportunity to seek out his
opinion on the situation. If someone complains of a copyvio that was
submitted anonymously we have to give that complainer the benefit of the
doubt as long as he can identify the rights that were violated. The
threat of an immediate lawsuit should not need to be the primary
concern; ethics and integrity should be. When things get that far it
becomes clear that one or both of the parties has decided to be a jerk.
Suing in such situations is not an easy process. As a condition of
joining the rest of the world of copyright law the United States had to
accept that registration was not a pre-condition to having work validly
copyright; nevertheless, one can only collect for damages that took
place after registration.
As long as the problem lies with the original Wikipedia article it is
much easier to deal with we can go to the history, and see who
contributed what. This is not available downstream. A mere list of
contributors provides no opportunity to isolate the work of any single
contributor. Lately, when things have been transwikied for completely
valid reasons to Wiktionary a contribution history list is also put on
the talk page, but that history is completely useless because it may
have related to an edit war over points that are of absolutely no
interest to Wiktionary. It would be much nicer to drop all the
irrelevancies from that list.