Oliver Pereira wrote:
I have a query about copyright, although not directly
related to the Bryce
Harrington thing. If an article is in breach of copyright, and someone
else replaces the text with original material, the copyrighted material is
still publically available on the Wikipedia to anyone who knows about the
revision history page. Doesn't this mean that there is still a breach of
copyright here? And if so, doesn't the entire article (along with its
history) have to be deleted, and not just rewritten?
I think I may have edited some articles that *previously* contained
copyrighted material, and now I'm wondering if these edits actually need
to be deleted, which would be annoying...
I think we should be all right as long as the article history pages are
not available to search engines. Not even Wikipedia's own search
feature can illustrate these old versions. That technique is also
worthwhile in that if a search engine continued to produce a randomly
selected version from the history page, the value of material on
Wikipedia would be considerably less reliable than it is now. As things
stand, nothing in the current version of an article suggests that a
copyright violation was removed. If we apply the fair use rules to the
material we may find that even if something is not fair use on the
article, it could become fair use on the history back pages. The first
and the fourth factors will notably be different.
1. Putting it on the history page will be transformative in that
the intent is no longer a matter of making it easily available to
the general public, and it will have acquired a kind of
meta-existence of interest only to those who are looking for
possible sources of future copyright violations. Having a data base
of these incidents will help to identify others in the future.
4. The likelyhood of the copyright holder being damaged by having
this material in our archives is very low. At least in theory, the
purpose of editing is to create versions that are progressively more
reliable than the previous ones. If the user even cares to go
through old versions with the aim of inappropriately using material
that is copyrighted, he is still faced with the question of whether
what he has found is an accurate and reliable quote. That's a
daunting task for someone who is looking for a quick fix for his
college essay - thus it is highly unlikely that what is found on our
history pages will have any kind of impact on the market for the
My comments are written with textual material in mind. We have no need
to keep violating pictures.