On 6/29/05, Angela <beesley(a)gmail.com> wrote:
The lack of information in the statements can be
explained by the 1000
character limit on those. I disagree about the questions not being a
good solution though. Last year, I only wrote my candidate statement
after the questions were asked because that process highlighted what
points were actually important to the community.
A fair enough point, and in any case there is no need we need to agree
My position is that the GFDL, as it currently stands,
impossible to adhere to for modified versions. I did already make some
comments about this at
Work is underway to make the process of reusing the content much simpler.
A basic feature of mediawiki is to present a list of the editors at
the bottom of each article. For electronic distribution that and a
copy of the GFDL would provide compliance. It is obviously unsuitable
for some medium so there could be some improvement, I agree.
I've read the new CC-wiki
license and I'm very concerned that it creates a special right for
site operators (as opposed to first editors or publishers).
I don't feel that the draft license at
<http://creativecommons.org/drafts/wiki_0.5> which has the requirement
to attribute the original site gives that site any special rights. It
isn't actually a new license, but a re-branded version of the cc-by-sa
with the only major difference being that the wiki is attributed
rather than the authors.
This is a substantial change, I'm quite aware of the license and what it is...
I disagree very strongly with the nature of the altered attribution.
In practice, this is how people are already
interpreting the GFDL. I am aware of very few mirrors who credit the
authors rather than simply crediting "Wikipedia" and linking to the
I made it clear in my email that I was already aware of the wikipedia
copyright page, and it's lack of strict conformance with the GFDL. I
mentioned it clearly and specifically and quite frankly I am somewhat
offended that you paid my message little enough credit or attention
that you failed to notice this.
As a community we have chosen to be lenient on the enforcement of our
license rights in exchange for some increased visibility. I agree that
it is a valuable pragmatic choice today, but I am unsure that it is
the best course in the long run. But importantly it does not change
the nature of legal status of our work.
The only request has been the fairly general one of
making the license
easier to understand. Personally, I would not want anything that would
remove the rights of authors, which seems to be what you are implying
Easier to understand is a fair request. However, with the text "Work
is underway to make the process of reusing the content much simpler.",
you contradict yourself. Which is it?
confident that the community will not tolerate a change to the
licensing which grants Wikimedia special legal rights which would
inhibit the ability of the community to fork should the board somehow
lose its mind and act against what the community feels is its best
I can't imagine any way in which later versions of the GFDL would do
that beyond what the current version does. Wikimedia doesn't control
the GFDL, and is far from being the only user of it.
As I said, "and I have great faith that the Free Software Foundation
would not make unwise changes to later versions of the GFDL", but
specifically I was requesting confirmation that the foundation was not
even *requesting* changes in the future versions which would grant
Wikimedia special rights which a fork of Wikipedia would not have
because the community (or just parts of the community) must have the
right to fork the project and not face an artificially unfair
competitive environment against WikiMedia due to special permissions
in some later version of the license.
Also, if the
changes made by the FSF were so awful you wanted to fork, you could
still do so under the terms of the old license. Current content can be
reused under the current license, even after a new version is
I am well aware of this, however, it would be unacceptable for
Wikimedia to be granted a special right over the material in the fork
simply because Wikimedia hosted the content first.
Because of this, you can be fairly confident that any
adoption of a new version of the license would have to be approved by
the community, and not only by the Board.
Since the license on the site is already granted 'or later versions'
if Wikimedia were to convince the Free Software Foundation to change
the terms Wikimedia could distribute content under a new license
against the will of the community, the community could fork and
Wikimedia would maintain an unfair competitive advantage in the
marketplace because of the special distribution rights. (if you get
your content from Wikipedia then you can just credit wikipedia, if you
get your content from FreeWikipedia then you can.. credit all of the
authors or.. the Wikimedia Wikipedia).
Considering my past correspondence with with FSF and their long term
track record, I would gauge the chance of them approving such a change
to be something near a snowballs chance in hell... Because of this, I
was simply looking for the confirmation that the board wasn't even
trying to request such a thing. If anything your reply has only
increased my concern. As what is almost certainly the single largest
user of the GFDL, and probably one of the most important it would be
foolish to assume we have no clout.
If you have specific requirements for what should or
should not be
part of the next license, it would be useful to make those at a page
such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:GFDL_upgrade
the page on meta linked to there by pcb21 that has not yet been
created) so this can feed into any discussions between Wikimedia and
A simple requirement is that no change to the license discriminate
against a fork which provides all of the appropriate attribution that
the wikimedia wikipedia provides, and that no change make provide any
additional legal means for wikimedia to prevent forks. I will submit
I will also be following up with the Free Software Foundation with the
simple message that, while working with the board is fine, that the
material on Wikipedia is entirely the authorship of the community and
it is the rights and freedoms of the community and the world which are
significant in matters related to our licensing.
require that the license not provide a special
attribution loophole that allows only attributing to the site where
the material was originally created.
I would like a direct assurance
that the board members will make no attempt to achieve such a change
for GFDL-licensed content on Wikipedia, Commons, or Wikibooks.
In practice, this is already being done as I mentioned above. The
section at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Copyrights#Example_notice
seems to be widely supported by the community at the English
Wikipedia, and a similar statement exists on other projects (see
And as I said "The requirements of the CC-wiki are fairly similar to
the not quite GFDL-compatible attribution suggestions we make on our
which is a big reason why I would even mention CC-wiki when talking
about Wikipedia licensing."
I am aware of it, and consider it a kludge to address a practical issue.
for example). If this is not the case, then the community needs to
make a decision to change the wording, which all contributors are
currently agreeing to (since that copyrights page is linked from the
When I last read the page, it was fairly clear that it was a limited
permission grant and not a term of the license.
If you believe that adding additional terms to a page separate from
the licence notice that every contributor sees somehow permits the
wikimedia foundation to redefine the GFDL then you are sorely mistaken
and are potentially putting the foundation in a legally precarious
situation. Even if you ignore that fact that contributors only agree
to license you their text under the GFDL and have never even seen that
page (for example, I only read it long after I started contributing
because I was already well aware of the GFDL), you run into the fact
that we have GFDLed text included from other authors who have never
seen the wikipedia.
For example, wikipedia includes some of my text from a GFDLed linux
documentation project document which I wrote ages ago and was
contributed by someone else before I ever contributed to the
However, perhaps the fact that the authors are
attributed in the page
history, which is linked from the Wikipedia article that the mirrors
are being asked to link to, is seen as sufficient attribution. I
wouldn't agree to anything which allowed the complete removal of that
attribution, but allowing a situation where readers had to make a few
clicks to get to it, in order to make re-using the content easier,
would not necessarily be something I would oppose.
I'd be quite agreeable to alterations in that ilk... In an electronic
medium following hyperlinks for source or attribution is acceptable
within reasonable bounds.
When you start granting rights preferentially is when I find it concerning.
Any part of the wikipedia community, should have an equal right to
make a proper fork (i.e. one that provides all attribution, GFDL,
prefered form, etc) and sever all ties to the Wikimedia Foundation.
Such forks should have an equal right to redistribute the work to
others whom redistribute it again with 'condensed attribution' which
link to their choice of proper forks (as our adhoc enforcement rules
allows improper forks to do towards Wikipedia).
like to know how each board member thinks the board to
incorporate community input into licensing-related discussions.
The main issue here seems to be the next version of the GFDL, which
neither the board nor the Wikimedia community has any control over.
This is inaccurate. As one of the largest users of the GFDL it would
be foolish to deny that we have some degree of influence.
terms of discussions prior to a new license, I would hope anyone
interested would contribute their opinions on the page I previously
linked, or on meta to make it more international, or on any of the
relevant mailing lists. The more important question might be how the
discussions are managed after a new version of the GFDL is introduced.
I don't know if the FSF release draft versions as
the CC do. If they
do, this would be an ideal opportunity for the Wikimedia communities,
as well as for anyone else using the license, to have an input into
New license versions are a rare event for the FSF. I'm sure if we
asked for the ability to see and comment on a draft we'd be granted
If that is not the case, then there will need to be
discussion after the release of GFDL 2.0 whereby the community as a
whole could decide whether it was appropriate to change to that new
license. Imposing a new version without any sort of community
discussion and consensus is something I aim to avoid.
That is good.
Perhaps you and others with opinions on this could
form some sort of
special interest group
(<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special_interest_group>) where these
issues can be discussed, agreed upon, and then presented to the FSF in
a more formal way. Do you think that could be a useful way to ensure
input on this rather than relaying opinions only through the Board?
Yes, that would be an excellent step which I will follow up with.
Thank you for your time and your thoughts.