[Foundation-l] Foundation's position on non-free images

Anthony wikilegal at inbox.org
Fri Aug 18 11:27:46 UTC 2006

On 8/17/06, Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net> wrote:
> >I'll state for the record my disagreement with that. I think copyright
> >policy should be made on the Foundation level in cooperation with the
> >projects. The current situation is an unsustainable mess.
> >
> Having this set at the Foundation level would create just as much of a
> mess.  Fair use is only one part of the problem.  There are other
> matters that cannot be resolved with a single policy.  The merger
> principle is of great concern to Wiktionary, and it is not unusual to
> find publications that include copyright notices on material that is
> essentially uncopyrightable.
> It's useful for the Foundation to have a broadly worded policy
> supporting the principle of respect for copyright.  It's also useful for
> the Foundation to establish protocols for dealing with formal requests
> to take down copyright violating material.  Beyond that projects need to
> learn how to deal with such matters responsibly.
> Ec
The lack of unity is a problem, but what's less clear is how to solve
it.  The Free Software Foundation takes the position that *all*
*software* should be free.  While they try to accomplish this within
the framework of the law, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say there
is policy instituting a principle of respect for copyright, at least
as it pertains to software.  Remember that copyright on software was
never a given in the first place - there were those who thought at the
time software started becoming widespread that software was not
legally of the form of expression that can be copyrighted.

So how does that relate to Wikimedia?  Well, ask people working on the
projects whether or not they believe that *all* *content* should be
free.  I'd even ask it of the people on this list.  And I don't think
many people would say that yes, it should.  Wikimedia, assuming you
can refer to more than just the board as Wikimedia, seems to have a
diverse set of opinions on this issue - many people don't even believe
in free software, and that seems to be OK.

Jimmy Wales and others have been recently using the term "free
knowledge" to describe the product of Wikipedia.  I wonder how many
people reading this email believe that *all* *knowlege* should be
free.  If it's significant, maybe that's a starting point on how to
formulate a copyright policy which answers questions about fair use.
But I'm not sure even that can be agreed upon.  Either way, I think
it's an important question to answer from the outset.


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