[Foundation-l] [Commons-l] Wikimedia Foundation's help to the projects

Brad Patrick bradp.wmf at gmail.com
Thu Dec 14 16:52:18 UTC 2006

"You took the words right out of my mouth."  Exactly.  For those who 
want answers,
(a) it's complicated
(b) the answer is "it depends"
(c) there is no "right" answer
(d) if there is a "right" answer, it can be challenged
(e) no, we aren't going to represent you to fight about it.

This is a somewhat flip response, but it is the truth.

David Monniaux wrote:
> Yann Forget wrote:
>> For my practical use, is a photograph taken in India in 1908 by a Indian
>> photographer is public domain in USA (first published in India)? and if
>> it is taken in 1920? in 1945? and if the photographer is American (first
>> published in USA)? and if the photographer is from a third country,
>> England, for example? (Indian copyright law is "public domain 60 years
>> after publication" for photographs and sound recordings).
> Two major problems here:
> * In many cases, copyright questions may be resolved only on a
> case-by-case basis. For instance, in many countries, copyright only
> protects "works of the mind" with no exhaustive and clear definition of
> what a work of the mind is, and it is possible that certain technical
> photographs are not works of the mind that can be protected by
> copyright. However, deciding whether this is the case for a particular
> photograph will entail examining details related to the photographic
> process, and thus no clear-cut global answer can be provided.
> * In many cases, what we intend to do simply has not been tested in
> court. People often mistakenly believe that there are things that are
> "legal" vs things that are "prohibited" and thus that lawyers can tell
> us which is which. In reality, there are things clearly legal, those
> clearly illegal, and things in between for which a lawyer may only give
> some kind of educated guess of whether that would fly in court (which in
> turn depends on how well we argue our case in court).
> Both of this clash with the expectations of many of our users and
> admins, that is, to get black and white "yes / no" answers to legal queries.
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