In message <Pine.LNX.4.30.0202041503460.28975-100000(a)ross.bomis.com>om>, Larry San
On Thu, 31 Jan 2002, Axel Boldt wrote:
The current file upload utility requires the user
to "donate" the
copyright to "Wikipedia". Wikipedia is no legal entity, so this
doesn't make sense. It is also not in line with the way we have
handled copyrights up to know for text submissions: the user retains
copyright, but licenses the work under GFDL. I suggest that this be
What makes it true that "we have handled copyrights up to now for text
submissions" in this way (i.e., with this interpretation)? As far as I
can tell, Axel, you were the first to insist, several months ago, that
this was the case. If I recall correctly, Jimbo and I admitted that this
might be a valid interpretation. For my part, I thought it was obvious
from the beginning that writers are donating text to the project, in order
for it to be distributed freely to the public at large. While I can
certainly freely admit that there are other interpretations, what I can't
understand is why you would think another interpretation is so clearly the
correct one. I don't think we've settled the issue.
The interpretation of "I, as author, hold the copyright and grant a
license for wikipedia to use it under Gnu FDL" has always been my
interpretation of the intellectual property transfer. I never thought I
was donating text to the project when I wrote it.
One reason I might think this is that in UK copyright law (See
Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988, [CDP]), "an assignment of copyright
is not effective unless it is in writing signed by or on behalf of
the assignor" (section 90 CDP). I haven't done that, so in my mind, I
still own the copyright; and in law too I think.
I think the view that wikipedia holds the copyright is extremely
worrying. If that were the case then there is nothing to stop wikipedia
making future versions closed. The Gnu FDL only restricts licensees
that don't own the copyright, the copyright owner can do what they like.
I would stop writing for wikipedia if it turned that they owned
copyright in the articles. I know wikipedia has a database copyright,
that doesn't worry and seems only fair.