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.
From: Ulrich Fuchs <mail(a)ulrich-fuchs.de>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 12:21:20 +0100
Subject: Re: [Wikipedia-l] FDL used to stifle distribution of articles
Am Samstag, 29. November 2003 21:10 schrieb Erik Moeller:
A user of the German Wikipedia, Ulrich Fuchs, has
threatened to take legal
action against any third party who makes commercial use of their material
without following a very narrow interpretation of the FDL "five author"
requirement, which reads as follows:
Just to put that "threat" in context: There currently is a website
(currently down, I don't know why) in Germany using
Wikipedia material (either by copying it in the first place by the site
maintainers or by uploading by Wikipedians), which does not comply to the
licence (e.g. it does not list authors, it does not even mention Wikipedia).
That site actually reserves the right to distribute the material in any form,
including for example on paper, smartphones or on PDAs (since the site is
down I'm citing that from google cache). That makes a weblink to Wikipedia
practically useless. In addion, Flexikon states "so dass Sie keine Inhalte
einstellen dürfen, wenn Sie später eigene Rechte geltend machen wollen" (You
may not upload content, if you want to claim rights on the text later).
That's not true, putting a text under GNU FDL does not mean, *losing* ones
rights on the text. What makes me especially angry is DocCheck/Flexikon
putting a "(c) 2002 by DocCheck Medical Services GmbH" under each article
page, and refering to the GNU FDL just on one general "usage" page. It all
looks like a de facto re-closing of open content.
I agree with everyone thinking the GNU FDL is completely unsuitable for
Wikipedia. We act against this license a hundred times a day moving content
from one article to another, translating from english to german and just
stating there "aus en:". But that is *within* Wikipedia. It's a completely
different thing if people are starting to make money out of that project.
It's a fact that the license is at it is. We should have choosen a better one
in the first place, but now we have the GNU FDL and it's likely that we have
to live with her. The only way for having any changes would be a nother
version of the license released by the GNU Foundation. (By the way, Erik, you
cannot just add a statement on the edit pages (releasing from the five-author
quote thing), since the license does not allow you to modify the text then.
If you modify, you must put the modification again under the GNU FDL and
under nothing else. The five-author-thing also applies to mere copying
without modification, since the history "section" is part of the document.)
For making one thing perfectly clear: I have nothing against using Wikipedia
material in a commercial context. The license perfectly allows for that, that
is what is *intended* and I actually start beleiving that a commercial
read-only Wikipedia with edited content is probably a good thing (like Linux
also needed Distributors for it's success).
But the license does not allow for hijacking of the material: If one is going
to use the material in a commercial context, we should insist on our rights
to keep the content free, to have any derived work free again and to have
mentioned our effort in developing that content.
The German "Urheberrecht" (similar to copyright in US) is applying here (I
think so, since there are just german people involved; *where* something is
published is irrelevantin such a context, the question is *who* is
publishing). However, the "Urheberrecht" is a personal right, there is no
such thing as a "Wikipedia" or "Wikimedia foundation" or
can possibly own the "Urheberrecht" on the texts.
So, I have to say "I will do" when I'm meaning "we should do".
*We* cannot do
anything, it's always just the copyright owner who can do something.
I have escalated this issue because Wikipedians have started to upload content
to a commercially oriented site who is not complying to the GNU FDL at all. I
do not want to threat any Wikipedian with legal action, but I also do not
want to spoil any legal action against a non-complier to the license because
some Wikipedians helped him in not-complying and I did not tell them to stop
doing so. From a legal point of view I have to state explictly that I do not
tolerate any uploading (of contented provided by me) to a commercial site
that does not comply to the license, since otherwise I would not have done
anything to keep the damage low (which is more or less required by german law
-pretty good law, does prevent from things like SCO distributing Linux over
years and then filing a lawsuit).
In my opinion, legal threats like these are
dangerous to this project and
to the very idea of open content.
Again, I'm not against open content. And I *know* that implies commercial
usage. But I will fight any attempt to "re-close" the content, and that
means, please, that Wikipedians do not actively *support* a non-complier(!)
to the license with posting Wikipedia content there.
They also show once again that the FDL
is a fundamentally flawed,
overly complex license with lots of loopholes
for pedants who want to get their way instead of working with the
This is absolutely not what I am doing. And I'm pretty sad about Erik being
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